by Nigel Hilton
It’s likely to happen to most drivers at least once. Getting pulled over isn’t an uncommon experience, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not serious. Depending on how you do or don’t behave, answer questions, or act, you can end up getting yourself into more trouble even if you haven’t done anything wrong. So, how do you deal with a traffic stop?
Is it enough to tell the truth?
We would all like to believe that the justice system is truly just enough that an innocent person can tell the truth and be excused on their way. However, it has been proven many times that this isn’t the case. Vice has published a fantastic interview that can show the dangers of answering even the most seemingly innocent questions from the police, which can often lead down to a path of being charged with something you never expected. Instead of answering every question forthrightly, it’s worth knowing that you’re not compelled to answer questions without the presence of a lawyer. Unless you’re being threatened with a conviction, you are free to resist requests.
Mind your manners
That said, just because you don’t necessarily have to cooperate with every request doesn’t mean that you have to be combative. When you’re pulled over, maintain good etiquette. Don’t make any sudden movements, turn off the music in the car, and be polite, giving them your full attention.
Don’t consent to a search
You never have to consent to a search on your car or your person unless you’re being detained or unless they have found probable cause for a search. In fact, it can be worth refusing a search simply because many officers will carry one out anyway. If that happens, they may be unable to prove probable cause which can work in your favor if it comes to a court case. Otherwise, you could be giving them permission to find something that you might not even be aware of that can jeopardize you.
Have help at the ready
All drivers should have legal help at the ready, simply due to the risk of a traffic stop that goes poorly for them. Besides providing defense at a criminal trial, a lawyer can ensure that any requests for information or questions are being handled responsibly. Answering questions without that legal help can be what ends up working against you.
Prove your story
One tool that is helping more and more drivers prove their innocence is the dashcam. Simply having a camera on your dashboard can prove that you are driving safely. Besides offering potential proof of your innocence if you are arrested on an erroneous traffic stop, it also has positive implications for if you get involved in an accident on the road, too.
The traffic stop can be a very tricky situation, and it requires patience and deftness. The most important thing is that you have help on your side, so ensure that you know a lawyer you can turn to in the event you wind up in trouble.