Stopped by Police During a Traffic Stop? Know Your Rights!
Fox59 News has an article discussing the ins and outs of what to do if you are involved in a traffic stop. http://fox59.com/2015/10/29/do-you-know-your-rights-when-stopped-by-police/. Recently, it seems that every time you turn on the news or open a newspaper, there is another story of someone being shot or injured during a traffic stop. While there may be many reasons that these incidents to occur, one thing is certain, and that is traffic stops can be dangerous and unpredictable, for both the civilian and the officer. That is why it is important to know your rights and know how to interact with the police if you are stopped.
Police officers in Indiana are required to complete law enforcement training, which often includes the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. There, officers are taught to expect the unexpected during traffic stops, which can be one of the most dangerous interactions an officer will have with the public since they do not who is behind the wheel.
If you are stopped while driving, you should pull over as soon as possible in a safe location. If you do not feel safe, you can call 911 and notify them that you are being stopped and request a backup officer at the scene. Make sure to take steps to let the stopping officer know that you are pulling over, such as letting off the gas and turning on your blinker.
Once stopped, turn off the ignition and keep your hands visible. If you do have a gun in the car, let the officer know right away so they can secure the weapon if necessary. As long as you have a valid permit to carry or are otherwise legally carrying the weapon, the gun should be returned at the conclusion of the stop.
During a traffic stop, you will probably be asked for your driver’s license and insurance. The law requires that you identify yourself when stopped for an infraction or ordinance. Failing to ID yourself can lead to an arrest and criminal charges for Refusal to Identify, a class C misdemeanor. I.C. 34-28-5-3.5.
The officer may ask you questions about the stop, such as whether you know why you were stopped, how fast you think you were driving or if you saw the red light the officer thinks you ran. You do not have to incriminate yourself. Any statements that you make to the officer can be used against you at trial so you should not admit to any violations. Stay calm, provide required information and otherwise, let the officer complete the stop and be on your way. Arguing with the officer at the stop typically will not change the outcome and may even result in you receiving more citations. Any issues with the stop can always be dealt with later on during discovery or a trial.
A big topic lately has been whether you can video tape an officer. The short answer is yes. As long as you are not interfering with the officer’s duties, you can and should record the stop, if possible. If you have a passenger in the vehicle that can help with this, ask them to film the stop. If any questions arise later on about the stop or what was said, a video can very helpful.
Once the stop is complete, the officer will either give you a warning or citation. The officer is only allowed to hold you as long as it takes to complete the traffic stop. However, they are not required to explain the citation, show you the radar gun or explain your legal rights. If you do receive a citation, make note of any deadlines to respond on the ticket. You typically have 30-60 days to respond to the ticket with either an admission or denial. This is also the time you will want to contact a lawyer if you want the assistance of an attorney to contest the ticket or file a complaint against the officer.
Any time you are stopped by the police, it can be scary and stressful. The most important piece of advice I typically give to clients is to try and remain calm since yelling at the officer almost never ends well. This is not to place blame on anyone who is mistreated by the police, but while you cannot control how the police officer behaves, you can control your reaction.
If you have any questions about a traffic ticket, police stop or if you have been arrested during a traffic stop and charged with a crime, contact Chambers Law Office, LLC today to discuss your case.