Being pulled over by the police is not a pleasant experience. Even if you have nothing to hide, you can become anxious or agitated in the situation, which could lead to a confrontation with the police officer or even an arrest. Here are five things to do – and not to do – if you are pulled over by the police.
1. When you hear a siren blaring or emergency lights flashing, pull over to the right as soon and as safely as possible.
Pulling over in a timely manner will most likely calm an annoyed or angry officer and let him/her know that you are aware of the situation.1It also gives you a better idea of where the officer says you committed a traffic violation if you need to go back to the area to dispute speeding, an illegal turn or any other offense.2
2. Be prepared for the police officer.
After you pull over safely, roll down your window all the way, turn off your engine and place your hands on the steering wheel. If it is dark or hard to see, you may want to turn on your car’s interior light.
3. Do not reach for papers until the police officer asks you to.
By this time, you’re expecting the police officer to ask you for your driver’s license and car registration. But don’t rummage through the glove compartment or reach into your pocket or purse just yet – wait until the police officer asks you.3The police officer may suspect you are reaching for a weapon or are attempting to hide contraband.4Wait until the police officer gives you specific instructions so he/she does not have reason to suspect anything.
4. Do not give a police officer a reason to search you.
A police officer cannot search your vehicle unless he/she has probable cause to search your vehicle.5“Probable cause” is a reasonable belief that something illegal is or was taking place in your car.6
If a police officer sees drugs, alcohol or other contraband in plain view or sees you trying to hide something or throw something out, the officer has probable cause to legally search your car.
If a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you are armed and dangerous, he or she can have you step out of your car and frisk you (pat you down).
Remain calm, cool, collected and do not exhibit any suspicious behavior.
5. Be respectful of the police officer.
Do not be hostile or show attitude to a police officer. Let the police officer speak first. Address the policeman or policewoman as, “Officer.” Do not insist on having the officer tell you why he/she pulled you over.
If the officer asks you whether you think you violated a traffic law, you should never admit that you did so. Either decline to answer the question or tell the officer you do not believe that you violated the traffic law in question. Of course you should never wilfully lie to a police officer as that can result in a misdemeanor offense. However, if you do admit to violating traffic laws, the police are trained to write your statements on the back of your ticket. Those statements could be used against you in court if your matter goes to trial.
If a police officer acts as if he/she may not give you a ticket if you cooperate, do not fall for this tactic. The officer may be trying to get you to admit that you committed a violation.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge after being pulled over by law enforcement, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience handling all types of criminal charges as a result of traffic stops in Southern California. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Police Stops: What to Do If You Are Pulled Over, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/police-stops-when-pulled-over-30186.html]↩
2. [Ibid. 1]↩
3. [Ibid. 1]↩
4. [Ibid. 1]↩
5. [When can police search your car?, http://www.flexyourrights.org/faqs/when-can-police-search-your-car/]↩
6. [Id. 5]↩