Getting pulled over by the police is always stressful. Nonetheless, it's common, and it's not unusual for people to be nervous and get confused as to how to behave and what to say.
If you have been pulled over, it is important to find an attorney to help you. An experienced Fairfax criminal defense attorney knows the law, how the court system works in the court where you are charged, and what you can do to put yourself in a better position in court. The attorney can advise you on what you are facing when you go to court and what issues or evidence exists in your case that she can use to try to win your case or to use in negotiations to try and get the charge reduced or dropped or to help minimize the punishment the court gives out if you are convicted.
What Do You Do When You See a Police Car?
If you glance into your rearview mirror and see a police car behind you with lights flashing or sirens blaring, then you have a duty to lower your speed and safely pull over for the officer. Remember, pulling over is not an admission of guilt. It simply means that you are aware of your surroundings and your duty under the rules of the road. Failing to do so can result in additional charges for violating the law.
Just After You Pull Over
Turn off your engine and roll down your window. These are simple courtesies that may improve the outcome of your interaction with the officer. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. If it's dark out, turn on an interior light so that the officer can see you. Above all, stay in the car unless the officer asks you to get out, and don't start rummaging around for your license and registration. This can make the officer nervous or unsafe if they suspect you are reaching for a weapon.
Can the Police Search Your Vehicle?
Traffic violations generally are not sufficient reasons to search a vehicle. However, there may be exceptions to this rule if the observes open beer cans or joints in plain view or the officer thinks you made a furtive movement which is a sudden or suspicious movement where the officer fears you are going for a weapon. This movement is subjective and can lead to injury or get someone killed if an officer perceives this movement as a danger. When things are present, the officer may direct you and your passengers to exit the vehicle, and a pat-down search may be conducted if the officer fears you are dangerous or if questionable items are seen in the vehicle.
What Should You Say?
Let the officer do as much of the talking as possible. Keep your responses short and refrain from volunteering information. You do have the right to remain silent but being formal and polite is a good rule of thumb. You should always provide your name and ID when asked to do so. Beyond that, you should limit your responses because anything you say can and will be used against you. If you remain silent things you say cannot be taken out of context or be perceived as an admission of guilt.
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney
Were you charged with a traffic violation or another crime after being pulled over? Contact the Law Office of Ann Thayer at (703) 940-0001 for criminal defense services.