Part two of our “Know Your Rights” series talks about getting pulled over by the police. Most people experience getting pulled over by the police while driving at some point in their lives. It is always an uneasy feeling to see flashing lights in your rearview mirror and wonder what is going to happen next. But remember, officers get nervous too. Knowing your rights, along with some basic behavior guidelines, help to create a calm scene that reduces risk to yourself and the officer.

If you are pulled over while driving an automobile, truck, or motorcycle, you and any passenger have the right to remain silent. To reduce risk, turn your hazards on to indicate you see the request to pull over find a safe and find a well-lit place to pull over if possible. Once you are stopped, turn the car off, turn on the internal lights if it is dark, open the window part way, and place your hands on the wheel. Your passenger should put their hands on the dashboard or at least visible on their lap. The point is to show the officer you are complying while trying to create safe conditions for all. You need to have your information ready so that you are not having to fumble though your car to find it. This prevents sudden movements and behaviors that lead to an officer escalating the stop. At this point, you need to wait for the officer’s instructions and be civil in your responses.

If you are detained, state your wish to remain silent and ask for attorney. They can ask you to get out of the automobile and can, and may, separate you and your passengers. There are certain scenarios where they can search your car without consent: when they have a warrant, “probable cause” that criminal activity is taking place, your car was involved in a crime, or belief that evidence of a crime is in your car. If the police start to search your car do not physically stop them. Calmly and politely state that you do not want them to search your car. If the situation leads to an arrest, wait and talk only to your attorney. You have a right to a local phone call. You should tell your attorney that your car was searched without your permission. They can research and determine if it was a lawful search or not and if there were any other unlawful actions by the police.

There are also actions you can take to help your case if you feel your rights were violated. It is best to write every detail you can remember as soon after the incident as you can. This should include the officers’ badge and car numbers, which precinct or agency they are from, and any other identifying information you can provide. Also get witness information, take photos of property and bodily damages, and seek medical treatment if you were injured. You can file a complaint through multiple channels to get the incident on the record.

Getting pulled over by the police is a stressful situation. When a police officer begins to pull you over, what you do and say has a great effect on what happens next and any legal proceedings that may follow. Every choice you make is critical. Regardless, there are situations where the police do not always follow the rules even you have done everything right. If you or your loved one has been pulled over and you believe your rights have been violated, contact Curtis Legal Services. We will review your case for FREE and let you know how we can fight for you!