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Do’s & Don’ts When an Officer Pulls You Over

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

March 22, 2019

Let’s face it: getting pulled over by a police officer is scary no matter who you are or what you’ve done. Unfortunately, if you let fear take hold of the situation, you’ll have a hard time dealing with the cops. However, our blog post is here to help you remember the do’s and don’ts of a traffic stop.

Things You Should Do When Pulled Over

1. Stay Calm

This first tip is easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important you remain calm when you’re pulled over. A quiet mind helps you think through your conversation with the cops, keeps you from acting nervous or strange, and makes you seem level-headed despite the circumstances.

2. Remember Cops Are Emotional Beings

While the law is supposed to be objective, the reality is that the people who handle the law (cops, prosecutors, etc.) are emotional beings who make subjective decisions. The cops are the ones in control of the situation, and they have nothing to lose: you have lots to lose.

You may want to yell at a cop for pulling you over, but that’s not advisable. An angry officer may scrutinize your traffic stop, looking for any reason to charge you. With this in mind, it’s wise to be kind and courteous to officers, if for the sole purpose of not pissing them off and making yourself a target.

Another reason to remember that cops are emotional beings is that they can say things that aren’t true, just because they’re upset with you. For example, an officer who arrests someone might say something like, “you’re going away for a long time for what you did.” However, that’s not necessarily true.

A cop has no power to authorize or determine the accused’s guilt in a criminal trial. Therefore, remember that cops don’t have the last say, because if you do listen to them, you might react and make your situation worse.

3. Keep Your Hands on the Steering Wheel Until Told Otherwise

Cops are emotional beings, which means they can get scared or frightened; unfortunately, a frightened cop is a real threat to whoever is scaring him or her.  For this reason, it’s best to keep your hands on the steering wheel until a cop tells you otherwise. It makes an officer more relaxed, and it keeps you out of hot water.

Things You Shouldn’t Do When Pulled Over

1. Answer a Cop’s Questions

A cop’s sole job is to investigate and gather evidence against a person who’s accused of breaking the law. For this reason, it’s never wise to answer a cop’s questions concerning your traffic stop.

Thanks to our fifth amendment rights, as American citizens we have no obligation to incriminate ourselves. In short, this right means we don’t have answer police questions, especially when they would lead to an arrest.

It may feel weird to refuse to answer a question, so if you don’t want to keep silent, saying something like, “I politely decline to answer the question.” If a cop says you must answer it or you’ll face charges for “obstruction of justice,” stand your ground until you talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.

2. Confirm a Cop’s Accusation of Guilt

As previously stated, a cop’s sole responsibility during a traffic stop is to investigate and gather evidence against the pulled-over person. One of the ways the police try to gather evidence is to accuse people of wrongdoing and attempt to get positive confirmation of their statement from the accused.

For example, a cop may something like, “Are you a little tipsy tonight?” While the question may seem harmless, it’s likely that the officer just accused you of drinking and driving. If you answer affirmatively, you can bet that your positive response to the officer’s question will come up during a trial.

Therefore, you should never agree or respond positively to an officer’s questions concerning your night, your current state of mind, or the reason he or she pulled you over.

3. Lie

If a cop accuses you of doing something wrong, don’t lie; you should never lie to an officer for any reason concerning your traffic stop. When an officer pulls you over and starts to ask questions, you are entirely in the dark about how much evidence he or she has concerning the reason for your traffic stop. Therefore, an officer may have proof of you breaking the law; and at this point, a lie can result in harsh penalties.

If a cop asks you a question that you can only lie to not incriminate yourself, don’t answer it! The police can’t charge you for staying silent, but they can charge you for intentionally giving false information.

Things to Do When Arrested: Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one are arrested during a routine traffic stop, Hager & Schwartz can help you fight for your case. With thousands of past clients and numerous awards and accolades, attorneys John Hager and Brett Schwartz have proven over and again to be superb representatives for those who need it most!

Call (954) 840-8713 now for an immediate consultation concerning your case!