If you have ever been pulled over by the police, you know how stressful or aggravating it can be. And for some reason, it always seems to occur at the most inopportune time.
If you haven’t felt the feeling of being pulled over, you know the feeling of a cop car driving behind you, the feeling of goosebumps, and the sense of anxiety even knowing you aren’t doing anything wrong. Unfortunately for us and police officers, that’s the feeling most people get when interacting with law enforcement, a sense of unease.
A way to minimize those feelings of unease, anxiety and tension is to know – and adhere – to your rights.
The rights of you and your passenger
You both have the right to remain silent throughout the process. If you are a passenger, you may ask the officer if you can leave the scene. If the officer grants your request, do not interact with the officer and silently exit the vehicle.
As the driver of the vehicle, maintain personal safety by practicing the following when stopped by law enforcement:
- As soon as possible, locate a safe location and pull the car to the side of the road
- Turn off the vehicle and if dark, turn on the dashboard light
- Roll down the window slightly and place both of your hands on the steering wheel
- Instruct your passengers to keep their hands in plain view
- When instructed by the officer, show or hand them your drivers license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance
- Make only controlled movements, making sure the officer can always see your hands
Your rights if detained or arrested
If detained, remain silent, unless you are requesting to speak with an attorney. Anything you say or do, any explanation or physical act can be used against you in court.
If the detainment leads to an arrest, you have a right to one phone call. Use it wisely. Your rights state that police cannot listen to a call with an attorney, but they have, and often exercise the right, to listen to a phone call with anyone else.
Straying away from these guidelines can lead to aggressive situations. Sometimes, interactions with police begin hostile, so do your part and exercise your rights. By doing so, you have legal standing if law enforcement violates your rights.
Also, when interacting with the officer, pay close attention to, and try to remember their name, badge number, or any information you can legally obtain as a defense against the officer if you choose to pursue charges.