What Are Your Rights If Pulled Over By The Police?

We have all been shocked by recent horror stories like the Cincinnati policeman shooting an unarmed man, Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop and the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell after a police officer pulled her over for failing to signal when changing lanes. Would you know what to do if you are stopped by a police officer while driving? Do you know what your rights are and how to behave when pulled over? According to the US Department of Transportation when pulled over by a police officer you should:

• Pull your vehicle off to the right side of the road as far out of the traffic lane as possible.
• Turn off your engine and radio, lower your window and wait for the officer to come to you.
• Remain calm with your seat belt fastened.
• Do not get out unless the officer tells you to exit your vehicle.
• Keep your hands in plain view, and do not make any sudden movements.

You are required to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. The police officer may ask if you know why you were stopped. You do NOT have to provide an answer. You do have the right to remain silent. If you feel you should say something, it is ok to say, “I don’t know.” If the police officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, you must do so. This is all you are required to do if asked. You must provide the documents above and get out of the car if the officer asks you to do so. You do have the right to record the traffic stop but be sure you do not make any sudden movements and that the officer can see your hands at all times. You do not want them to think you are reaching for a weapon. If the officer asks to search your vehicle, you do not have to allow it. They are asking for permission and you do NOT have to consent to the search. However, there are exceptions. If the officer suspects that you are trying to hide something or may have thrown something out of the window for example, they may conduct a legal search without your permission. Do NOT give them any reason to suspect you are concealing anything. They may also search your car if you or one of your passengers are arrested. Again, one of your most important rights during a traffic stop is the right to remain silent. Do not admit to having broken any traffic laws and do not become hostile or defensive.