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What to do and not to do when pulled over by the police

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

If you have suspicions that the police officer that just pulled behind you is aiming to pull you over, and whether or not you think you have done anything wrong, everyone gets nervous when they see the black and white driving behind them. Due to negative press in recent years, trust and respect for the police have dwindled for many.

If you are pulled over by the police, there are actions you should do and those you should avoid. Provoking law enforcement is not a good idea for anyone, but you do have legal rights to safely exercise.

If you are pulled over by the police, do:

  • Pull over as soon as possible in a safe location and turn off the vehicle.
  • Turn on the internal light (if stopped at night) and slightly roll down the window.
  • Keep your hands where the officer can see them (steering wheel or dashboard).
    • The passenger should do the same.
    • Furtive movements provide police a reason to search the vehicle so just sit still. You can get your vehicle registration card and proof of insurance as well as your driver’s license after the officer is at your window and asks for them.
  • If the officer mentions a search of your vehicle, exercise your rights by stating, “I do not consent to a search.”
  • Exercise your right to remain silent unless answering questions about your necessary information such as verifying your address.  You are not required to advise the officer where you have been or where you are going, how much you had to drink, or even if you have been drinking or smoking.
  • You do not have to participate in field sobriety testing.  Be polite and advise the officer you would rather not participate. You will not have your license suspended for refusing field sobriety testing.
  • If placed under arrest and detained, do consent to a DUI test. As an implied consent state, licensed Pennsylvania drivers have provided consent to taking one or more breath or blood tests when legally arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).  If you refuse the blood or breath test you could lose your driver’s license for one year.
  • Even when placed under arrest and taken to a DUI Booking Center, police station, or a hospital, you still have the right to remain silent other than giving basic information such as your full name, date of birth, and address. The police officer will have forms to fill out and will ask you questions from the forms. Just because it is a form does not mean you have to answer the questions. Be polite and just inform the officer you do not wish to respond to those questions.

Lastly, keep your car free of unnecessary debris.  A messy car will make an officer suspicious and could lead to them wanting to search the vehicle.

If you are pulled over by the police, do not:

  • Do not physically resist in any manner. If the officer ignores your desire to “not consent to a search,” do not resist. Merely stating that you do not consent provides you some legal backing.
  • Do not make any sudden movements that could spook the officer.
  • Do not search for vehicle documentation until directed.
  • Do not try to bribe the officer by monetary or any other means.
  • Do not play loud music or verbally insult the officer.

If you are arrested, you need and deserve representation. Seek out an attorney that will put your rights first.