What To Know If You're Pulled Over

Pulled Over

When pulled over for an investigatory stop by law enforcement people often make the mistake of believing they can negotiate their way out of it. This idea cannot be further from the truth. Whether the stop is for a traffic offense or there are other factors at play, there is not much that one can do to "get out" of the stop. The only things you can do are know your rights and understand how to protect yourself. Here are six common sense tips to live by if you're pulled over for an investigatory stop.

Pulled Over

When pulled over for an investigatory stop by law enforcement people often make the mistake of believing they can negotiate their way out of it. This idea cannot be further from the truth. Whether the stop is for a traffic offense or there are other factors at play, there is not much that one can do to "get out" of the stop. The only things you can do are know your rights and understand how to protect yourself. Here are six common sense tips to live by if you're pulled over for an investigatory stop.

  1. Be mindful of what you have in your vehicle at all times. It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: You should never have anything illegal in your vehicle at any time. Furthermore, be mindful of anything in plain sight that could be mistaken for contraband. Such items, either actual or perceived to be contraband, give law enforcement probable cause to search your car.

  2. Do not resist. According to the law, if a suspect resists during a traffic stop, he or she gives the officer probable cause to search their car. Do not provide a reason for them to search. Stay calm. Answer their questions. Follow their directions.

  3. Know where you're going and where you've been. If you're traveling with other passengers there is absolutely no reason for every person in the car to not know where they're coming from and where they're going. One of the easiest ways for law enforcement to obtain probable cause to search a vehicle during an investigatory stop is for all parties to have a different travel itinerary.

  4. Exercise your right to remain silent. Talking about anything other than the traffic violation and your travel itinerary is a no-no. Any questions outside that scope - invoke your right to counsel.

  5. Do not consent to a search. Do not do a law enforcement officials job for them by consenting to a search of the vehicle without a warrant. Even if you believe you have nothing to hide, do not consent. Nine times out of ten, if an officer has enough probable cause to search a suspect's vehicle, he would not bother asking for consent. Force law enforcement to put the probable cause on paper and present their reasoning to the judge.

  6. Do not drive without a valid license and insurance. It is against the law to drive without a valid license, a current registration and active insurance. If you choose to drive without these things, just know that you're giving law enforcement a green light to pull you over, arrest you and impound your vehicle. Don't put yourself at a disadvantage before even leaving the driveway. Keep it current or keep your car at home.

An informed citizen is a protected citizen, so understand your rights and responsibilities before getting on the road. If you keep these six tips in mind before driving or during the course of a stop you can keep yourself from turning an illegal search and seizure into a legal one.