Traffic stops occur for many reasons, most commonly for ordinary moving violations. They are never a fun experience. However, always be mindful that conducting a routine traffic stop can put a police officer in very dangerous situation. Officers are trained to observe and interpret behavior and movements during traffic stops, which sometimes means that behavior a lay person may consider innocent could be interpreted as potentially threatening. Here are some simple rules to follow if you find yourself the subject of a traffic stop:
• Pull over and park your vehicle as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so (and use your blinker);
• Stay calm. and do not say or do anything that could be interpreted as threatening, even as a joke;
• Do not get out of your vehicle unless instructed to do so by the officer;
• Have your driver’s license and insurance card ready to show the officer;
• Keep both hands in plain sight, and do not reach for anything without first telling the officer what it is you are looking for;
• You have the legal right not to answer any of the officer’s questions, such as “Do you know why I stopped you?” or “Do you know how fast you were going?” Your responses could be used against you in court.
• Do not argue with the officer. If you think the officer is in the wrong, save your argument for court.
Following these simple rules should help you get through a traffic stop without any unnecessary aggravation. If you have a received a traffic citation, be sure to contact an attorney at Wagner, Falconer and Judd to discuss your rights and options.
For information on what do do after a traffic stop, take a look at this entry.
Attorney Steven R. Coon