A police officer pulling someone over can ruin his or her day. Whether officers believe a driver was speeding or they have reasonable suspicion that a driver is intoxicated, a traffic stop can cause a driver to feel anxious and worried, even if that person does not believe that he or she did anything wrong.
Often, that anxious feeling can stem from not knowing what to do or expect during a traffic stop. Whether an officer has pulled you over while driving before or not, you can still feel uncertain about the situation. As a result, it is important that you know how to behave and what your rights are during a traffic stop.
Make sure to pull over
If an officer activates the flashing lights and siren on a police vehicle to signal for you to pull over, you need to stop your vehicle. Even if you do not think you have violated the law, you cannot simply continue driving. You can wait until you reach a safe area to stop, but you must do so as quickly as you can. After coming to a stop, turn off your vehicle and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Though police officers conduct traffic stops often, they usually do not know what a stop will entail and are typically on guard for their own safety. As a result, you may want to avoid making any sudden movements or carrying out any other actions that the officer could perceive as threatening.
Know your rights
Though you have to stop your vehicle, you do not have to participate in every action the officer requests of you or answer any questions he or she poses other than providing your name. You and any passengers in your vehicle have the right to remain silent, and if you wish to enforce that right, you may politely tell the officer that you will not answer any questions. The law does require you to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance to the officer.
If the officer indicates that you are under arrest, you will likely want to continue using your right to remain silent but also request a lawyer. The officer should inform you of these rights during an arrest, but even if he or she does not, you still have these rights and can use them.
Creating a defense
If you do end up under arrest after a traffic stop, you may want to write down everything you can remember about the situation as soon as possible. The details could play an important role in your criminal defense. Going over that information with an experienced Maryland attorney could help you understand whether the stop was valid, if the officer violated your rights in any way and how you can move forward.