You've likely heard the saying that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Growing up in Kansas, your parents may have said something similar to you on many occasions. Remember the question about whether you'd jump off a cliff if all your friends were doing it? Fast forward to adulthood, and the sage advice your parents taught you in childhood can come in handy, especially during a traffic stop.
If you're driving along and notice patrol car lights flashing behind you, you can keep driving, but should you? You should definitely not continue to travel if you're aware that a police officer is attempting to pull you over. This will immediately increase your chances of going to jail. There are certain things you should and shouldn't do during a traffic stop; there are also things an officer may and may not do as well. Understanding the basics of a traffic stop may help you protect your rights.
Things you should never do
Nothing can ruin an evening quite like a traffic stop, especially if the stop leads to your arrest and possible criminal charges. The following tips include behavior you'll want to avoid if you hope to mitigate your circumstances if a police officer pulls you over:
- Don't be coy or flippant.
- Don't flee the scene.
- Don't confess to anything.
- Don't answer questions in self-incriminating ways.
- Don't ever exit your vehicle unless the officer instructs you to do so.
- Don't reach for things inside your car or make any major movement without permission.
It's always best to speak as minimally as possible during a traffic stop. If a police officer asks you anything beyond questions meant to personally identify you or your vehicle, you may invoke your Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent unless legal representation is present.
Things that are good to do in a traffic stop
While avoiding the behaviors mentioned earlier, the following list shows things you can and should do during a traffic stop:
- Cooperate as much as possible with the investigating officer's instructions.
- Speak politely and respectfully.
- Provide driver's license and vehicle registration information when the officer requests it.
- If an officer asks you to step out of your car, do so immediately and know that you may request legal assistance at any time.
Regarding the police officer's behavior, he or she must have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop and probable cause to make an arrest. In fact, you have many rights that are protected by law, and the more you know about them, the easier it may be to overcome any legal challenges that arise.