Guest Post – What to do During a Traffic Stop

Almost everyone deals with getting pulled over for speeding or some other minor traffic violation.  A lot of people are unnerved when this happens and not sure how to handle it.  Today we have a guest post by Andrew Flusche on just this subject.  Andrew is a Virginia lawyer who helps drivers fight their tickets for reckless driving in Virginia. He is also the author of the five-star book, Fight Your Virginia Reckless Driving Ticket. Circle Andrew on Google+. Let’s hear Andrew’s advice on the subject:

If you’re stopped by the police for a traffic violation, you’re mind is probably racing. What did you do wrong? What is the officer going to ask you? Some people may be trying to remember if they have any contraband in the vehicle.

What to do?

Here are my simple tips for handling a traffic stop:

1. Stop promptly and safely

As soon as an officer signals for you to pull over, turn on your turn signal and reduce your speed. THEN begin looking for a safe place to pull over.

But don’t keep driving long. You’re not going to find a perfect spot, so just pick the closest place where you can try to be out of the travel lane and stop.

It’s better for the officer to ask you to move somewhere else than for him to think you’re trying to run.

2. Be polite

Throughout your interaction with the officer, be polite. He’s just an underpaid public servant who’s trying to do his job. And if he comes off rude to you, it may be that the last person he encountered was a complete jerk.

Being polite to the officer can only help you. And you can bet that he’ll tell the judge if you’re rude.

3. Shut up

You’ve all heard police reading people their rights on TV. The first one being, “You have the right to remain silent.”

Here’s the deal: the police don’t read your rights during a routine traffic stop. But you DO have the right to remain silent. And anything you say WILL be used against you in court.

Keep your mouth shut! Talking about the accident you just had or how many beers you had at dinner will hurt you at court.

4. Produce your documents

Depending upon your state, the officer is going to ask for some documents from you. Usually you’re at least required to produce your license and registration.

It’s a good idea to have your documents handy as soon as the officer walks up. Fumbling around for a registration card can actually be one fact used by the officer to establish grounds to arrest you for DUI. You definitely don’t want to encourage that type of situation.

5. Wait patiently

The officer knows you have somewhere to be. In most cases, he’s going to try to finish the stop ASAP. Part of being polite is waiting patiently while he does his job.

6. Pull away carefully

When the stop is over, it’s time to continue your trip. I’ve had clients who peeled out and others who almost ran over the officer’s foot. You don’t want the judge to hear that testimony from the officer.

Wait until the officer is away from your vehicle (preferably back in his cruiser), and then carefully make your way back into traffic. You’ll be glad you played it safe.

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Scott Morgan is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He has practiced family law since 1994 and is the founder of the Morgan Law Firm which is dedicated exclusively to representing divorce and family law clients in the Houston and Austin areas.

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