3 tips for handling a traffic stop

A police officer pulling you over may induce fear. Regardless of what you think the reason is, there are some steps that you must go through to get the stop cleared and continue on your way.

Traffic stops are common. Understanding how to handle one may make a difference in the charges you face and maintaining your legal rights. Keep these three tips in mind the next time an officer pulls you over.

1. Signal to the officer that you will pullover

If you feel uncomfortable pulling over, you may continue driving until you reach a safer area. However, you should alert the officer that you acknowledge the traffic stop even if you continue driving. Putting your hazard lights on should tell the officer that you are looking for a safe area before stopping.

2. You do not have to agree with the reason

The police need probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. This usually means the officer needs to either see you commit a traffic offense or have evidence that you committed another crime. When the officer pulls you over and asks if you know why the traffic stop occurred, you do not have to answer. Let the officer explain the reason instead of guessing. You may inadvertently incriminate yourself further.

3. Do not allow a vehicle search

The Fourth Amendment affords you the right to protection against an illegal search and the seizure of anything the police find. This means unless the officer has a warrant, he or she cannot search your vehicle without your permission. You may decline the request outright.

Asserting your legal rights during a traffic stop may aid in defending possible charges.

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