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Avoiding Criminal Charges After a Routine Traffic Stop

Posted by Posted on in Criminal Defense

Chicago IL criminal defense attorneyRoutine traffic stops for minor violations, like driving with a faulty tail light, failing to properly signal a turn, or exceeding the posted speed limit, are common occurrences, and in most cases they result in a ticket and fine, or even just a warning. However, sometimes what starts as a routine traffic stop can result in much more serious criminal charges, including for driving under the influence (DUI) or illegal possession of drugs, weapons, or stolen property. If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, it is important that you understand your rights.

Common Misconceptions About Traffic Stops

Many people believe that they are required to answer an officer’s every question and consent to their every request during a traffic stop. A person’s natural instinct may be to cooperate, and they may even hope that the officer will let them off with just a warning because they were so polite. The reality, however, is that anything you say to the police officer could become evidence used against you later in court. In addition, your statements could give the officer probable cause to arrest you for a more serious offense, or to search your vehicle.

You Cannot Be Forced to Incriminate Yourself

You should never lie to a police officer, of course, and you are required to provide certain information, such as that which is on your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of auto insurance. This information generally includes things like your name, address, age, and date of birth. However, you are under no obligation to provide the officer with any additional information. If an officer asks you a question that could be incriminating, such as, “Have you been drinking tonight?” you have the right to politely respond with something to the effect of, “I prefer not to answer any questions without the advice of an attorney.”

Additionally, you do not have to consent to an officer’s request to search your vehicle during a traffic stop if they do not have a warrant. In Illinois, an officer is legally permitted to search a vehicle if they have probable cause to believe they will find evidence of a crime, including if they can see evidence in plain view during the traffic stop. While you should not physically interfere with an officer’s attempts to search your car, it is generally best to clearly state that you do not consent to the search. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, a defense attorney can move to suppress evidence that was obtained through an unreasonable search.

Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are stopped by Chicago police and charged with a serious crime, do not delay in seeking help from a qualified attorney. Contact our experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel to get the guidance and representation you need. We will thoroughly investigate the details of your situation and develop a strategy for protecting your rights and obtaining the most favorable outcome for you. Call 312-629-0669 at any time to schedule a free consultation.

 

Source:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fourth_amendment

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/automobile_exception

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