Five Tips to Remember if You Are Pulled Over by a Cop

Posted on in Criminal Defense

pulled over by a cop, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorneys Many drivers experience being pulled over at some point in their life, typically for violations like speeding or running a stop sign. These common encounters with officers are brief and usually end with a minor consequence like a warning or ticket. However most of us will never experience a situation like Sandra Bland—a woman who made headlines this past summer. Bland was pulled over as part of a routine traffic stop that quickly escalated, leading to her arrest. Bland later died in jail.

Unfortunate situations like Bland’s case do not happen often, but they provide an important reminder for all of us. As a U.S. citizen and motorist, you have a responsibility to understand your rights and be able to protect yourself in any unfortunate situations involving police. If you are pulled over by a police officer, consider the following tips to protect your rights.

You Do Not Have to Agree to a Search

If you are pulled over for speeding, running a stop sign, a burned out tail light, or any other normal traffic violation, you do not need to allow officers to search your vehicle.

Officers tend to casually ask, “Can I take a look?” Therefore, drivers may let their guards down and consent to a search. At this point, however, anything an officer does find can be used against you. Unless the officer has any reasonable proof of something else illegal, just calmly deny the request. This denial should be enough to deter the officer. Still, cases have been known to get out of hand. If an officer tries to pressure or threaten you, then remain calm and do your best to remember details of the situation.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Most of us are familiar with this right, but it can be difficult to remember during a stressful situation involving the authorities. Whether you have been pulled over, detained, or formally arrested, you have the right to remain silent.

You may be legally required to provide some basic information, such as your name, address, proof of car insurance, and driver's license. However, beyond that, you do not need to say anything. Keep in mind that situations with police officers commonly escalate when the citizen in question is rude or talks back to an officer. Therefore, do your best to remain calm and simply respond, “I do not need to answer that question.”

You Can Ask if You Are Free to Go

This is true if you have been stopped but not formally arrested. If you are pulled over for a common traffic violation, officers can not hold you for any longer than the time it takes to either issue a warning or write you a ticket. If an officer attempts to keep you there, ask calmly if you are free to go. If he or she allows you to leave, do not leave in a rush. That is just further ammunition for the officer to suspect you of something. Instead, be polite, and leave the scene calmly.

You Have the Right to an Attorney

This only applies to situations where you have been formally arrested. If a police officer places you under arrest, then ask for an attorney and do so sooner rather than later. No matter the situation, if you have been arrested, you need legal representation as soon as possible. We have all seen situations of police officers violating a citizen's rights, so the sooner you can speak to an attorney to start arguing your case, the better.

Do Your Best to Remain Calm

We live in a difficult time where police officers do not always follow the rules. Even in cases where you have been wrongly searched or arrested, do your best to remain calm. If the officer wants you in custody, they will find a way to do so, so fighting against them will likely only make matters worse. Avoid making sudden movements, and try to keep your hands where the officer can see them. You do not want to give the officer any reason to add on additional charges, or worse.

If you believe your rights have been violated, the best thing to do is to remember the experience as best as you can. Remain polite towards the officer, and try to memorize the officer's name and badge number. Try to remember how the situation plays out, as you may be asked to recall details later when working with your attorney.

Most police officers are very respectful of our rights as citizens, and take their job of protecting the public very seriously. The few cases of police misconduct, however, are reason enough to make sure we all know our rights. If you believe your rights were violated by an officer, or you were mistreated, contact a qualified attorney immediately.

The Chicago criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney have years of experience handling a variety of criminal related cases. Our experienced team will work tirelessly to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Contact us at 312-629-0669 to schedule a consultation with an attorney today.


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