What do I do during a traffic stop? Ask Richmond Criminal Lawyer Jim Sullivan

Richmond, Texas Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan Can Represent You in Criminal Court.

What to Do During a Traffic Stop

Imagine you see blue flashing lights in your rear view mirror when you are just driving along and minding your own business.  When you look down at your speedometer, you realize you are driving 5 miles over the speed limit in a school zone.  Woops.  What you do next is very important.
  1. If an unmarked car is trying to pull you over, you should drive at a safe speed to a highly visible area where other people are present.  However, you should pull well off the road and activate your emergency lights if it is a marked police car.
  2. Turn the car engine off, put both hands on the steering wheel and keep them there in full view, otherwise the police may point their handgun at you.
  3. "Do you know why I pulled you over?" The officer usually will ask you.  You should just answer "No, Officer, I do not. Please tell me."  The officer is hoping that you will confess to some traffic infraction such as speeding, changing lanes without signaling, etc. because such statements can be used against you later in court, if it comes to that.  For the same reason, do not apologize for your driving.  Just play dumb and let the officer do the talking.
  4. Move slowly and deliberately when the officer asks for your driver's license, proof of insurance and car registration.  If the documents are in the glove compartment, tell the officer that you have to take your hands off the steering wheel to obtain the items he is requesting.  Absolutely do not reach under the seat as this might result in the officer pointing his handgun at you.
  5. If the officer orders you out of the car, always comply and get out.  Do not argue.  Tell the officer if you need to reach down and release your seat belt.  A 20 year old male was shot by FBI agents near Baltimore in 2002 after the FBI agents in an unmarked car pulled him over, mistakenly thinking he had been involved in a bank robbery.  The man was shot in the face by one of the FBI agents when he reached down to unbuckle his seat belt.  Why?  The agent later explained that he "felt threatened."
  6. If the officer wants to search your car, do not give consent, even if he threatens to get a drug dog to sniff over the car.  The officer cannot legally search your car if he does not have your consent or "probable cause."
Regardless of what you learned in school, in traffic stops, the police officer is not "your friend".