I’m getting pulled over! Oh Crap! There are blue lights flashing behind you indicating that you need to pull over. What should you do? The blue flashing lights are directed at you. What do you do if you get pulled over by the police? Everyone has been pulled over at some point in their life. Being pulled over is stressful for everyone. It is important to know how to behave during a traffic stop. Below are some steps to keep in mind when you are pulled over.
Steps to Take When You Get Pulled Over
Above all else, you must be calm and stay in your vehicle. Below is a list of steps to take when you are pulled over.
Remain calm and respectful
Stay in your vehicle (unless you are ordered otherwise)
Notify someone that you have been pulled over
Keep your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see
Make no sudden movements
Answer no questions other than offering your name, date of birth, address, and place of residence
When the officer asks for your license, registration, and proof of insurance, inform the police officer where those documents are before you reach for them.
It is imperative that you do not answer questions that you do not have to answer. Anything you say could be held against you later if charges are pressed. However, this does not mean that you should argue with the police. You should never raise your voice at the police when you do not want to answer their question. You should politely decline to answer their questions, apart from questions about your name, date of birth, address, and place of residence.
Once the police have obtained your informational documents (license, registration, proof of insurance), the officer is going to check if all your documents are still valid. The officer is also going to run your information to see if there are any summons, warrants, or restrictions against you. If you have an active warrant against you, it is imperative that you call an experienced criminal defense attorney.
While there isn’t a specific law that allows citizens to record the police, there is no statute that criminalizes recording the police. It is generally acceptable to record the police while you are in public as long as you are not interrupting the police’s ability to perform their duties. For your safety, you may choose to record the police. If you have a dashcam installed on your vehicle, many dashcams already pick up audio from the cabin and would record the officer speaking with you. In the event that you are charged with a crime or given a ticket, the recording may help you in your defense case.
What to do if the Police Want to Search Your Car?
A police officer may want to search your car while they have you stopped. If they have a K-9 unit, the officer may have the k-9 unit sniff your car. Police officers are not supposed to prolong a traffic stop to have a k-9 unit sniff your car. Ideally, the police officer would have probable cause before conducting any search of your car.
If a police officer asks to search your car, you do not have to say yes. When the police are asking for your consent to search, you have the right to say no. However, if the police officer decides to search your car anyway, do not attempt to interrupt or impede them. Obstructing a police officer’s investigation is a crime, and more importantly, you may be jeopardizing your safety by attempting to stop the police from searching your car. Let the police officer do their job. If the police officer did not have probable cause to search your car an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to suppess that evidence during a criminal case. It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you in this case.
What to do if you are pulled over for DUI?
The same normal steps apply here if you are pulled over for a DUI. You need to remain calm and respectful. Keep in mind that you do not have to answer the police officer’s questions when they ask, “where are you coming from,” “where are you going to,” and “how much have you had to drink?” If a police officer already suspects you of DUI and plans to arrest you, nothing you say will change their mind. By answering these questions, you are giving the police more information to use against you. You do not have to subject yourself to a field sobriety test either, the field sobriety test is completely voluntary. The same cannot be said for a breathalyzer test.
Florida law states that people who have “accepted the privilege of driving” in this state, have consented to a breathalyzer test. However, this breathalyzer test must occur incident to an arrest, and the police officer must inform you that refusal will lead to a year-long suspension of your license. If the police officer is asking you to submit to the breathalyzer test, you do not have to consent unless you are being arrested.
What to do if You Have a Weapon in the Car?
When you are pulled over, you do not have to inform the police officer that you have a weapon in your vehicle. You do not need a concealed carry permit to secure a gun in your vehicle either. Florida Statute Section 790.25(5), permits gun owners, who don’t have a concealed carry permit, to have their weapon secured in their vehicle as long as the gun is not readily accessible for immediate use.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.