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It’s critically important for every motorist to understand how to respond when a police officer pulls you over. From time to time, officers may suspect that a driver is violating a traffic law and pull them over, but the officer is required to state a specific reason for the stop. The threshold for instigating a traffic stop is relatively low since an officer can even claim a malfunctioning taillight as a valid reason for a stop. 

Officers are specifically trained to look for signs of a combative suspect anytime they pull over a motorist, and knowing how to react in those instances will be crucial for the driver, particularly in protecting their legal rights. Let’s review the most appropriate ways for a driver to respond after being stopped on the highway by a police officer.

Should You Stay in Your Vehicle After a Stop?

Never get out of your vehicle unless requested by an investigating officer, and be as courteous as possible. The officer will immediately be looking for signs of impairment, so the manner in which you respond becomes part of the officer’s questioning. Always keep your vehicle documentation and driver's license handy to avoid having to reach into your pockets or the glove compartment, since this is often what occurs when suspects attempt to resist officer interaction and retrieve a weapon.

Why You Shouldn’t Move Anything in Your Car After Being Stopped

Officers are also trained to spot movements between the time their lights are turned on and when they reach the car for questioning. How a passenger reacts to being pulled over can sometimes create suspicion in the mind of the officer. Always remember that reasonable suspicion was likely the reason for the stop, and any search can only be conducted when the officer thinks there could be probable cause that a crime is being committed. The "plain view" doctrine also always applies.

How To Talk to An Officer After a Stop

It’s very important to be honest and non-combative with the officer at all times. Always remember to answer questions directly without embellishment. You also have the legal right to remain silent, and you’re not required to consent to a search of the vehicle. Many officers stop an individual with a predetermined notion to make an arrest, and many officers are commonly looking for anything they can find to justify writing a citation or performing an arrest. If they request to search the vehicle, ask to speak with an attorney first even if the officer wants to secure a warrant.

Why You Need Legal Help After a Traffic Stop

Always remember that it’s often best to speak with a criminal defense attorney before allowing an officer to begin searching through your vehicle. The officer may also be looking for ways to convince you to provide potentially incriminating information of your own free will. They’re not looking for ways to protect your legal interests. They’re officers of the law looking to cite you for an infraction or make an arrest. It’s a much smarter move to contact an attorney first.

Sometimes police officers overstep their authority. If you believe you’ve been the victim of police misconduct, including an illegal traffic stop, contact the experienced attorneys at Christopher Trainer and Associates, who are available to help you pursue your case in a court of law. If you’re the victim of police misconduct, gather as much documented evidence as possible, and have an attorney review your case. 

Experienced Legal Representation Matters

The attorneys at the Michigan Legal Center have helped residents for the last two decades present strong police misconduct cases. Call 1800-961-8477 for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. Christopher Trainor & Associates are happy to answer any questions you have and advise you on the next steps you need to take to receive compensation after a bad experience with law enforcement.

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