As an American citizen, you are afforded many rights and protections when it comes to interactions with police officers. The most common interaction you'll experience is getting pulled over for speeding or other traffic violations. However, if you don't deal with this situation often, you might not really know what your responsibilities are to ensure everyone's safety during the stop and to keep yourself out of trouble. This guide details what those responsibilities are, to ensure a safe interaction between you and a police officer.
Keep Your Hands in Plain Sight
Even though you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, even in a traffic stop, you can eliminate the risk of making an officer feel threatened by keeping your hands in plain sight, such as on the steering wheel.
You may think that the officer is going to request your license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance; and they likely will. However, it is a good idea to wait until the officer asks for it before you go digging through your glove compartment or purse to retrieve it.
Even though you want to have these items ready, the officer won't automatically know what you are grabbing for when they see you through your back window digging. To prevent problems, exhibit patience and do only what the officer requests of you.
Disclose Concealed Weapons
Some states allow concealed carry licenses, which allows people to carry a gun on them while they are driving, or store it in their vehicle. Although state laws vary concerning concealed carry licenses, it is important that you let the officer know that you have a gun on you and that you show him or her your license.
Non-disclosure could prompt the officer to seize the weapon if they search your vehicle. It is important to remember that officers do have the right to do this in many states if they feel your weapon may have been used in a crime, or if they feel threatened.
Don't Touch the Police Officer
During your interaction with the officer, do not touch them. Remember that they do not know you. Touching them could make them feel threatened, which could turn a routine traffic stop into something you wish never happened.
Always be respectful to the police officer, even if you feel they have made a mistake in pulling you over. You'll have the opportunity to hire an attorney to dispute your ticket in court if you desire, but for the time being, make sure that you do what the officer asks you to do. Remember what your responsibilities are if you are pulled over for a traffic violation. The more you demonstrate compliance with the officer's wishes, the quicker you'll be on the road again.
For more information, contact Hogan-Kimrey LLP Attorneys At Law or a similar firm.