Traffic Stops & the Law

The law, in real life, doesn’t often work like it does on television shows like CSI or Law & Order. In fact, the law can be very different from what we see on crime shows. And as you know, a case is never wrapped up in 60 minutes.

Some of the things you need to know are your basic rights with the police. If you get pulled over for a ticket and a police officer wants you to step out of the car, are you required by law to do so?

Officers can require you to get out of your car, and you should obey that order without arguing. Don’t try to hold court on the side of the road because that’s a losing proposition. If the officer has probable cause to search your car, he’s legally authorized to do so.

However, if a police officer asks for consent to search and you know that there is evidence of contraband or criminal activity, you do not have to give consent to search. This will require police to get a search warrant and develop probable cause.

Based on your Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure, police have to have probable cause. Bloodshot eyes and slurred speech are not considered probable cause. In a DUI context, the officer will have to make a lawful arrest before he can search your car.

If you see the blue lights in your rear view mirror and police are trying to get you to pull over, what should you do if you can’t find a safe place to do so?

Find the safest area you can; you don’t want to endanger the officer’s life. Be reasonable – don’t go several miles down the road. Look for the least restricted area and pull over at the safest place.

Another thing, don’t use your own discretion, but do what a reasonable person would do, because if the case goes to trial, that’s what the court or jury would do. Try to comply with the law the best you can in such a situation, because, ultimately, it’s a safety issue.

If you have questions about your rights, visit our online legal directory to find a lawyer in your area. They’ll answer your questions and guide you through the proper legal channels.

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