3 Things to Keep in Mind During a Police Traffic Stop
If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will probably happen to you at one point or another… You’re driving along, listening to the radio, when all the sudden you hear that whine of the siren and the red and blue lights flashing behind you. Your heart sinks into your stomach as you silently hope that they aren’t pulling you over, but just trying to pass you. You put on your turn signal, slow down, and pull to the side of the road and the cruiser pulls up behind you. You think to yourself: What was the speed limit here? Did I run a red light?
More often than not, an interaction with police is the result of a minor infraction, like having a tail light burnt out or driving over the speed limit, and in the best case, the driver suffers a slight inconvenience and is let off with a warning, while others may also face the prospect of a hefty fine. But that isn’t how it always goes. It’s important to note that routine traffic stops are often an opportunity for the police to search and find other reasons to cite you, or even to arrest you.
For some people, a simple traffic stop can morph into something life changing with long lasting consequences, even if you didn’t do anything wrong to begin with.
Since traffic stops are so common, it is important to keep in mind the following points to ensure that your interaction goes as smoothly as possible without placing yourself in further jeopardy.
Don’t Admit to Anything
Police are trained to ask questions in a way that will get you to admit guilt or divulge additional information which could be used to incriminate you. Even simple questions like “do you know why I pulled you over?” and asking “was I going too fast?” can be taken as a sign of admitting guilt.
Anything you say can be used in court against you and will hurt your chances of getting even a simple ticket dismissed. It’s better to say that you don’t know why they pulled you over. If the police are out to prove you did something wrong and made a mistake, you don’t have to make it easier by admitting guilt.
The officer will often engage in other seemingly harmless small talk such as “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you headed?” or “What are you up to tonight?”
You should never ever lie to a police officer, but it is important to note that you do not have to answer these questions. Beyond providing your name and address, you have the right to remain silent and politely refuse to answer questions. In many cases, even if you have absolutely nothing to hide, your smartest bet is to avoid answering unnecessary probing questions.
In some cases, a simple broken tail light turns into an admission that you had a glass of wine at dinner and the officer who “smelled alcohol” decides to give you a field sobriety test.
Remember, police are permitted to lie, bluff, intimidate, and manipulate you — indeed, they are trained to do so in order to elicit information which could be used against you.
Giving Consent to Search
A police officer may want to search your vehicle but under most circumstances they do not have the authority to do so unless you give them your consent. In many cases, the officer may ask permission in a way that sounds like an order, such as “I’m going to take a look in your car, okay?” to which a simple “Okay” would be giving consent.
In these cases, you can state expressly “I do not consent to a search,” and while they may persist in searching, it is important that you make sure it is known that you have not provided consent, which could later be grounds for dismissing charges in court.
Police Traffic Stops
While most police traffic stops happen each day without incident, there are plenty of others that don’t quite go as smoothly. If you are arrested, it is important that you exercise your rights and tell the police that you wish to remain silent and that you want to speak to a lawyer. Once you exercise these rights, the police should cease to ask questions, even if you don’t already have an existing lawyer.
The attorneys at Fears Nachawati are experienced in representing all types of criminal defense cases, ranging from serious felonies to Class C misdemeanors. You can be assured that we will fight for you and your legal rights, and that no case is too big or too small for us to take on.
Don’t delay in reaching out to the experienced attorneys at Fears Nachawati for your free, no obligation legal consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. Please call (866) 705-7584 or visit the offices of Fears Nachawati located throughout the great state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.