Nothing can ruin a person’s day quite like getting pulled over by a police officer. This ordeal can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons, but in some cases, a simple traffic stop for going slightly over the speed limit could result in an investigation into other suspected activity. Police officers often attempt to determine whether a driver may have drugs in the vehicle, been drinking alcohol or been participating in other illegal activities.
If you find yourself pulled over by police, you certainly want the situation over with as quickly as possible. As a result, you may want to put yourself in the position of handling the traffic stop as well as you can. One way to do that is to know your rights and how best to act when interacting with an officer after he or she pulls you over.
What should you do?
A traffic stop can seem tense for everyone involved, including the officer. You may not know what to expect from the officer, and he or she may not know what to expect from you. In an effort to lessen tension, make sure you pull over as soon as possible. You can wait until you reach a safe area, but delaying your stop for too long could make an officer think you are trying to evade.
After stopping, turn off your vehicle and place your hands on the steering wheel. The officer will likely ask for your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. Gather these items in a calm manner and present them to the officer.
What if the officer asks questions?
It is also likely that the officer will ask you questions in an attempt to gather information and possible evidence if he or she suspects you of a crime. For example, asking if you have had any alcohol to drink could be an officer’s attempt to set you up for a breath test or field sobriety tests. However, you have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions beyond what your name is. Simply inform the officer, politely, that you want to exercise your right to remain silent.
In the event that the officer feels that reason exists to take you into custody, remember that you also have the right to an attorney. Contacting a Washington lawyer before answering any questions, even those asked at a police station, is likely in your best interests.