The lights are flashing and the siren is blaring. You have been instructed to pull over by a police officer for a traffic stop. The next decision you make could result in just a warning or something much worse. Nobody wants to speak with a criminal defense attorney in Tampa over what began as just an ordinary traffic stop.
The following steps should prevent you from experiencing any trouble with a police officer during a traffic stop.
Pulling Over and Presenting Yourself
It’s best to practice safe driving and slowly pull off to the right side of the road. Maybe the officer drives right past you to another car or maybe not. This isn’t an admission of guilt, it’s safe driving that police officers appreciate. Once safely off the road, turn off the engine of your vehicle, lower your driver side window enough that you can clearly speak to the officer, and place your hands on the steering wheel. If it’s night time, turning on your interior light is also considerate to the officer as well.
Speaking to the Officer and Getting Out of the Car
You should allow the police officer to do most of the talking. It’s best only to speak when either instructed to do something or for basic questioning. Never, under any circumstance, try to talk your way out of a ticket. As cops joke, “you can’t talk your way out of a ticket, but you can talk your way into one.” If asked to step out of the vehicle, you should do as the officer has requested; however, close the door to your vehicle behind you just to be safe.
Car searches can be where most traffic stops escalate from ordinary to criminal charges. In the State of Florida, a police officer can only search your vehicle if he has “probable cause” or a passenger in your car has been placed under arrest. In this rare case, the search is considered an “incident of arrest.” As far as your average traffic stop goes, if you do not have drugs or contraband visible to the officer then the officer has no legal right to search your vehicle. You should generally follow an officer’s instruction; however, you should deny the officer’s request to search a vehicle without probable cause.
If a police officer illegally searched your vehicle and you were charged with a crime, our criminal defense law firm is here for you.
For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm at (813) 370-1185 or submit our contact request form.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.