Pulled Over? Here’s the Right Way to Handle It.
You see the cruiser’s lights flashing. You feel your nerves mounting. You know you’re going to get pulled over. You ask yourself multiple questions while the police officer approaches your car: What do I do? If he issues a traffic ticket, do I fight it in court?
If this isn’t your first time being pulled over, you probably know how to comport yourself properly (if not, this could serve as a refresher course). If you’ve never been pulled over for a traffic citation, read on. The most helpful advice for dealing with traffic citations is to avoid them altogether, but it’s always best to be prepared.
Stay Calm and Pull Over Safely
It is extremely important that you do not panic. As a traffic ticket attorney, I cannot stress this enough: You have to stay calm throughout this ordeal. Locate a safe and convenient place (for you and the police officer) to pull over. If you can’t find one right away, call 911 and inform the dispatcher you are being asked to pull over and that you plan on driving until you find a spot where you can stop safely.
Once you’ve stopped, turn off your engine and turn on interior lights (if it’s dark out). Place your keys on the dashboard and rest both hands on the steering wheel. Make sure your driver’s license, car insurance, and vehicle registration are ready and accessible in case the police officer asks for them.
Do not get out of your car unless directed otherwise.
Cooperate and Be Polite
In my career as a Reno traffic ticket attorney, I’ve witnessed cases where a simple traffic stop escalated into something worse, because the driver lost his cool. Talking down to a police officer? Being rude and hostile? Hurling insults? It’s tempting, but it’s best to keep your composure. Good manners can go a long way; they could even increase your chances of leniency.
When a police asks the inevitable “Do you know why I pulled you over?”, politely decline to answer or just say “no.” Answering this question with anything other than a “no” could be considered an admission of guilt or an invitation (for the officer) to ask more questions. You can also decline to answer those seemingly harmless questions about your day. When a police officer asks questions like that, it’s not because they’re trying to be friendly. They’re trying to gather more information, and anything you say can be used against you should you decide to fight the traffic citation in court.
Try to be as ordinary and non-memorable as possible. Don’t argue, don’t start any kind of drama, and don’t fight back.
Know Your Rights
While you are encouraged to cooperate with a police officer during a traffic stop, that doesn’t mean you have to do everything they ask you to do. You have to know your rights.
If you feel pressured to answer any question (aside from the basic identifying questions), know that you have the right to remain silent. If a police officer asks to search your vehicle, you are within your rights not to grant any kind of permission. Police officers don’t have the legal authority to search your car unless they have a warrant… or if you permit them. If you’ve been stopped and subsequently arrested, know that you have the right to an attorney.
I know it seems next to impossible to pay attention to your surroundings (and not just to what the police officer is telling you), but you should try, especially if you plan to fight that traffic citation in court. Try really hard. The police officer who issued you a ticket has been building a case about you from the moment you pulled over. You should be building your own: the more facts you have, the stronger your case will be.
Having been a Reno traffic ticket attorney for many years now, I know how helpful being armed with information can be to building a case before the traffic courts. You should make a mental note of things like:
- Time and date you got pulled over
- Flow of traffic that day and other roadway conditions
- Weather conditions
- Roadway signs
Traffic tickets can be a cause of worry for a lot of people, and for good reason. Traffic violations come with hefty fines, license suspension, and more. But it won’t be the end of the world: If you’ve been issued a traffic ticket, know that you can choose to contest it in court.
If you’re seriously considering fighting a traffic citation, don’t go through it alone. Seek legal representation to protect your interests and your future. Contact Reno traffic ticket attorney Richard P. Davies today for a complimentary case review.