The Dos and Don’ts of Getting Pulled Over by Police, Part One: The Basics

police, Arlington Heights traffic violations attorneyGetting pulled over by police is never a fun thing to go through. One minute you are driving down the road and the next moment you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. Police can pull a motorist over for a number of reasons including for traffic violations such as speeding, running a red light, or suspicion of drunk driving. If you are pulled over by a police officer, it is important that you take certain steps to ensure your interaction with the officer goes as smoothly as possible.

Do Get Organized Before You Are Pulled Over

It is always a good idea to have your vehicle’s registration, your driver’s license, and proof of insurance in an easily accessible place. If you know where these items are before you are pulled over, it can make the process much faster and easier.

Do Pull Over as Soon as It Is Safe and Cooperate

If you see flashing lights or hear a siren, you should immediately pull over to the right. If the police car drives past you, you can assume the officer is pursuing someone else. If he or she continues to drive behind you, you are probably being pulled over. When there is a chance to do so safely, pull over onto the shoulder of the road. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and roll down the window when asked. The officer will ask for your license and registration. Get those items and hand them to the officer when asked.

Do Not Be Aggressive or Argumentative

The police officer pulling you over has no idea what to expect when he reaches your car. After all, someone who is a threat to an officer and someone who is not a threat can look the same at first glance. Do not talk back to the officer or otherwise anger him or her. If asked to step out of the car, most experts suggest cooperating with this request. If you are given a ticket, accept it without complaint. You will have an opportunity to argue your case later in traffic court if you believe the ticket is not justified.

Do Not Consent to a Search

Police must have “probable cause” to search a vehicle. Probable cause can include illegal substances seen in plain view or other evidence which leads an officer to believe a crime has been committed. Many police officers will try to “convince” a motorist to give their consent for a search. An officer may say something like, “You don’t mind if I take a look around your car, do you?” If an officer says something like this, politely respond that you do not consent to a search.

If you do consent to a search, your ability to challenge the search in the future is gone. If you do not give consent and the officer searches the car claiming to have probable cause, you and your attorney can challenge the validity of the search later in court.

Let Us Help

In an upcoming post, we will address a few more important tips for how to handle yourself when you are pulled over for a possible traffic violation. If you have any other questions or concerns about police interactions during a traffic stop, the Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Cosley Law Office can help. Call 847-253-3100 for a free, confidential consultation today.



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