“How much will it cost me?”
“Will I go to jail?”
You’re driving down the highway, minding your own business, and then it happens…
You see a police car tailing you. You drive on, but so does he, and way too close for comfort.
This continues for a while. “What’s going on? Why’s the cop tailing me like that? I haven’t done anything wrong. Why can’t he go away and catch a real criminal, for once?”
But that doesn’t happen. Instead, the cruiser’s lights flash. What you do next may determine how much you pay, if anything and, more importantly, whether or not you lose your freedom.
What should you do when you are pulled over by the police? Here’s how to make the best out of a bad situation:
What to Do After the Officer Stops You
Light your turn signals and pull over as fast as you safely can. Do so because you want to park as close as you can to the spot where the cop says you violated the law.
That way, you’ll better understand what happened at the scene of the “crime”, and this will let you more effectively defend yourself in court, if necessary.
Go as far to the right as you can so as to ensure the officer’s and everyone else’s safety.
After you stop:
• Roll down your window all the way.
• Turn off your engine.
• Put your hands on your steering wheel.
Don’t do anything else, until the officer tells you to.
If you act before the officer speaks, she may think you’re reaching for a weapon or trying to hide something.
How to Lessen the Chances of a Search
When you are pulled over by the police, a police officer can’t search either you or your vehicle without “probable cause”, so don’t give him any.
For example, if the officer sees you hide something or throw an object out your window, that’s probable cause, allowing her legally to search your car.
Also, if the officer arrests you, he can lawfully go through your vehicle.
Even when the officer can’t legally search your car, she may lawfully look at anything visible through its windows and take items she sees, such as open bottles of beer, wine or liquor, guns, or illegal drugs.
Officers may then open your car door to snatch the illegal objects and grab any other illicit articles they can plainly see.
Officers can also ask you to consent to a search. You are well within your rights to decline the officer’s request to search your car.
Should You Answer the Officer’s Questions?
Generally, the answer is no, but be polite when you decline. After all, the officer learned in the Academy how to ask questions that will likely trick you into incriminating yourself.
For example, the police officer might ask, “Do you know why I stopped you?” Don’t fall for that one. She’s trying to get you to admit to having committed a violation. Counter by simply saying “no”, even if you know the reason she pulled you over.
The officer might then ask if you know that you committed a particular fault, such as speeding or running a stop sign. “Do you realize that you were going 50 miles an hour in a 25 mile-an-hour zone?” If that happens, simply shrug your shoulders and remain silent. The prosecutor can’t use your reticence against you in court.
What to Do After the Officer Drives Off Into the Gloom of Night
If you get a ticket and you feel that you’re guilty, learn your lesson, pay your fine and get on with your life.
On the other hand, if you believe the officer ticketed you without cause, fight it in court.
Most people whom the police routinely stop don’t require the assistance of an attorney, but you may need one to help you with additional problems, such as when others injure you.
Let’s say, for example, that you slipped on the wet floor of your grocery store and broke your wrist. That’s probably the store’s fault.
If the management won’t pay your medical bills and offer additional money for pain and suffering, you may decide to hire a lawyer to get for you the compensation you deserve.
If you decide to discuss your injury with an attorney, please feel free to call us for a complimentary consultation from one of our caring lawyers.
We will take the time to answer all your questions so that you will know all your rights.
If you’d like to discuss your accident with us at McCready Law, please call (773) 779-9885.