Any police encounter beyond a smile and a polite wave can be scary.
We have seen in the news recently how traffic stops for minor infractions can escalate to something far more severe.
While it is important to know your rights as a citizen, it is just as important to keep in mind some basic rules if you find yourself the subject of a police traffic stop.
Difficult as it may be, it is always best to be polite and respectful whenever dealing with a police officer, even if you feel the officer’s reasons for stopping you were unfair or unlawful.
While it is okay to ask questions, it is never a good idea to engage in an argument with the officer.
If the officer requests it, you must provide basic information, such as identification and proof of insurance.
However, you have a right to decline to answer questions beyond that, such as “where are you coming from?” or “how much have you had to drink?”
Likewise, you can, and should, exercise your constitutional rights by politely denying the officer’s request to search you, your vehicle or any item within it.
However, if the officer gives you a specific command, such as “please step out of the vehicle,” you should fully comply.
You should NEVER physically resist an officer. Even nonphysical resistance could lead to a charge of resisting or obstructing an officer.
You should always keep your hands visible and avoid any sudden moves or gestures. This is particularly true if you are being pulled over at night.
Under no circumstances should you ever give a statement to police without your lawyer present.
Your lawyer may be able to bring a motion later challenging whether evidence seized pursuant to a police search was obtained lawfully.
By denying consent to search you or your vehicle, you have done your job.
A courtroom is a far better place to litigate the lawfulness of a police officer’s actions than in the heat of a police encounter on the side of the road.
Know your rights, but also use common sense and good judgment with regard to the manner in which you exercise those rights.
If you have been detained or arrested, you should call your FOS attorney immediately.