No matter how long you have been driving, being stopped by a police officer is a stressful situation. The following are some basic guidelines to assist you in the event you are pulled over.
Whenever you see lights or hear sirens behind you, you should immediately slow down, signal, and pull over as soon as you can do so safely. Keep your hands in plain view and do not attempt to get your registration or identification at this point. Instead, wait until the officer approaches the car and engages you. Upon request, you must provide your driver’s license and registration. You may also be asked to provide proof of insurance.
You should be polite and cooperative with the officer and you should never argue or become confrontational and should never lie or attempt to mislead the officer as that can only get you into more trouble. In fact, other than providing your basic identifying information, you have the absolute right to refuse to speak to the officer and to answer questions. You also have the absolute right to decline a request to search your vehicle. You should politely refuse to answer any questions beyond your name and other basic information and never agree to a search of your car. There are many, many cases, where people are charged and convicted almost entirely because of statements they made to the police and searches to which they should have never consented.
In most cases, traffic stops simply result in a summons. Once the officer verifies your information and you sign the summons, you will be released. You should never refuse to sign a summons. Signing a summons is not an admission of guilt, it is simply a promise to appear in court to answer the summons. If you refuse to sign, the officer will have no choice but to arrest you. If you are taken into custody, you should continue to assert your right to remain silent. If officers attempt to question you, you should tell them that you wish to speak to an attorney. At that point, all attempts at questioning must cease.
Whether you are immediately released on a summons for a relatively minor offense or you are arrested on a more serious charge such as a DUI, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced criminal attorney is essential to assist you in evaluating the seriousness of your charge. The attorney should discuss what options you have going forward and can advise you on what steps you will need to take to ensure the best possible result in court. Even if you think that the charge is no big deal, you should still seek the counsel of an attorney. Every case is different and an attorney can advise about other consequences you may not have considered. For example, convictions can result in license suspensions, can jeopardize security clearances, and can hinder your ability to maintain your employment. If you are not a citizen, there is also the very real possibility that a conviction could adversely affect your immigration status.
Ultimately, you may not get out of the ticket, but taking these steps can help to minimize the adverse consequences of a traffic stop. If you or someone you know is facing a traffic charge, please call our office to schedule a consultation.
Zoby, Broccoletti & Normile, PC (757) 466-0750 firstname.lastname@example.org