What to Do When the Police Pull You Over
While driving to the mall, you suddenly hear the familiar wail of a police siren. You look in your mirror and you a police car behind you, lights flashing and signaling you to pull over. You pull to the side of the road, wondering what is going on. You weren’t speeding, all your tags are in order, and there are no vehicle issues. The police officer approaches and asks to see your paperwork. He says you were speeding; but you disagree. What should your next steps be?
Unfortunately, anyone who has been following the news lately has heard horrific things about traffic stops. Just earlier this month, an African American male had been shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota after a being stopped for a broken taillight. The incident had been filmed by his girlfriend on Facebook, who said the victim had been reaching for his wallet when the officer shot him. The case is currently under investigation.
So what should you do when stopped by the police? Do you have any rights in New Jersey? First, know that in order for a police officer to make a traffic stop, he needs to have “reasonable suspicion” that you have done something illegal. For instance, the police officer had witnessed you driving erratically down the street or texting on your phone while driving. In addition, you should always follow the officer’s orders such as produce identification when asked or step out of the vehicle.
But remember, a police officer cannot search your vehicle just on the basis of a traffic stop. It has to be more than you looking suspicious. According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the police must have a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” to conduct a search, such as a gun in plain view on the front seat.
Keep this in mind when you are stopped by the police:
- Pull over immediately after seeing the police car. This will let the officer know that you are complying to his orders.
- Always keep level headed and polite, no matter how belligerent the officer is being.
- Don’t give the officer a reason to search your car, like throw a beer bottle out the window or appear to hide something before the officer reaches your car.
- Don’t get out of the car unless asked to. By leaving the car, it may be a sign of aggression.
- Never admit guilt.
If you are in need of an attorney after a traffic stop in New Jersey, we’re here to help. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone now for a free consultation.