If you are involved in a traffic stop, the most important thing is to stay calm. If you are calm, there is a greater chance that the officer or officers will be calm and not escalate the situation. You should also be prepared to show the officer your driver’s license and proof of insurance. If the officer wants to issue a citation, you should simply accept the citation. The place to contest a citation is in a courtroom, not on the side of the road.
You should answer general questions such as your name and date of birth to allow the officer to speed up the identification process. If you do not provide this information, you will likely be looking at a lengthy delay on the roadside while the officer determines your identity. You should not answer specific questions because anything specific is likely designed and intended to elicit an incriminating response. For example, if an officer asks how fast you were going, they are hoping you will admit to speeding. It is also important to note that an officer is usually not required to advise you of your Miranda rights during a routine traffic stop. However, just because the officer is not required to advise you of your right to remain silent does not mean that you should give up that right. Your right to silence can be beneficial when dealing with law enforcement.
During the course of a typical traffic stop, the officer will usually allow you to remain in the vehicle. However, sometimes, the officer prefers to speak to you outside of the vehicle. This can be for any number of reasons, including officer safety concerns. If the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, you should comply to avoid escalating the situation. If you are cooperative, the officer will usually do what they can to accommodate to you. Additionally, avoiding escalation greatly reduces the chances that anyone will be injured or killed.
Even if you know that there is nothing illegal in your vehicle or on your person, you should not consent to a search. Across the United States, law enforcement officers have been caught planting drugs or other contraband in people’s vehicles while pretending to be searching the vehicle. While not all officers do this, you can limit your own risk by not consenting to a search. Many officers wear body cameras or microphones that record their interactions with civilians. For this reason, you should be sure to say that you do not consent to a search out loud so that it will be recorded. If you are charged with a crime, this could help your defense attorney fight your charges.
An officer can search a vehicle when they have a search warrant or some recognized exception to the warrant requirement. If the officer claims to have a warrant you should ask to see it and allow the search when you confirm there is a warrant. More commonly, the officer will claim they have an exception to the warrant requirement. The most common example is when an officer claims to smell marijuana and then claims that gives them probable cause to conduct a search. If the officer does this, you should note that you are not consenting to the search and then allow the officer to conduct the search. Again, the place to contest the validity of the search is in a courtroom, not on the roadside.
If you are arrested, do not resist, or otherwise escalate the situation. You should inform the officer that you do not wish to give any statements or answer and questions and that you want to speak to an attorney. You should call an attorney at the BK Law Group at your first opportunity to do so. The earlier you get an attorney involved, the more they can do to help you. An attorney may even be able to assist in having you released from custody sooner.