Your attorney at law will do his best to defend you. Help him by defending yourself first. The recent concern over routine traffic stops escalating into fatal confrontations makes cooperation even more vital than ever. If you want to contest a ticket issued to you, make sure you follow these guidelines to give yourself the best chance.
1. Getting Pulled Over
You must pull over as quickly as is reasonable. On the highway, pull well onto the right shoulder. On residential streets, pull as close to the curb as you can get. If you are not near a safe place to park, turn on your warning lights to acknowledge to the officer that you see him.
It’s best for your case if you can pull over as close to the site of the violation as possible so that you can review the scene and asses your defenses.
2. Initial Questioning
Roll down your window and wait in the car with your hands visible on the steering wheel. Remember, the officer does not know you and must treat every situation as a potential threat until given reason to back down.
The basic rule to follow from here out is to not move unless the officer asks you to. Then describe where you intend to reach and do so slowly. Again, the officer has no reason to believe you don’t have a weapon somewhere.
If you are asked to exit your car, again you should do so calmly and slowly. The officer may pat you down or look inside the car. If he finds reason to believe you have contraband in the vehicle, he may conduct a more thorough search.
You are within your rights to ask for the officer’s identification or supervisor if you suspect he is not who he claims, but unfortunately some officers are not requires to show ID upon request. Your attorney at law would need to tell you the local laws and policies relating to such incidences, but if you pose no threat to the officer and he feels it is safe, he should comply.
3. Talking to the Officer
Let the officer talk. Answer his questions simply and honestly — it’ll be better for you in the long run. As long as you are peaceful and non-argumentative, he’ll have no reason to be aggressive towards you. Avoid over explaining things, as you may reveal information the officer can use against you, or you may say one thing and later say it differently, leading the court to accuse you of having an unreliable story.
Silence is not considered in the United States to be an admission of guilt, but do not provoke the officer by refusing to answer. Even the best law firms cannot repair your image if you deliberately antagonize the officer. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to lose by being honest. If you do have something to hide, it’s better to avoid further trouble and leave the rest of your case to your attorney at law.
If your officer is acting overly aggressive in spite of your own calm cooperation, there may be malpractice lawyers can find and have you compensated for, or an injury attorney if you are assaulted in the process. Even so, save the fighting for the court room, as a fight on the street can lead to death or injury.