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What to do when you are stopped by the police

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Most Indiana residents have been pulled over by the police at least once in their life. Even if you believe you are being pulled over for something minor, like a speeding ticket, the experience can be incredibly stressful.

Your anxiety during the stop can cause you to say more than you should. Instead, you should say as little as possible.

Criminal laws require that police officers have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. However, sometimes you could say things out of nervousness that could cause them to think you are guilty of other things.

State your name and say nothing else

The officers will likely start by asking for your name and to see your license and registration. Give your name and provide them with these items.

After that, you are not legally obligated to say anything else. You do not have to answer any questions. This includes seemingly innocent questions such as where you are going, where you are coming from and what you were doing.

You also should never answer questions about where you are from, your citizenship status or whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the stop is related to driving while under the influence, never admit to having anything to drink, even “just a beer or two.”

Police officers do not have a right to search you or your vehicle. They can pat you down only if they have reasonable suspicion that you have a weapon on you.

Do not resist or argue with them about the stop

The most important thing to remember when you get pulled over by police is to stay calm and cooperate.

This can be difficult, especially if you are sure that you were not doing anything wrong. The police officers might have violated your rights by pulling you over; however, the time to fight that is not at the traffic stop.

Resisting will only cause you more problems. Pull over as instructed and put your hands on the steering wheel.

If the police officers keep asking you questions after you consistently remain silent, ask for an attorney. They may keep asking you questions because they think that eventually you will say something.

These same rules apply for passengers. If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is pulled over, put your hands on the top of the dashboard. Passengers have the same right to remain silent and ask for an attorney.

You can ask if you are free to leave

The police officers may issue you a ticket or citation, or they could just keep asking you questions. If it appears they are going to keep asking questions, you can ask if you are free to leave.

These tips can help you the next time you are pulled over by a police officer. It is understandable if you do not remember them and say or do something you wish you hadn’t. Being pulled over is scary.

Talking with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. Your rights may have been violated, or you could have said something that provided the police with evidence against you. Criminal defense attorneys can advise you on your rights and options.