There are few things more anxiety inducing than seeing a police car pull behind you and flash their lights. This panic can cause many people to forget their rights. If a police officer pulls you over, there are certain things that you can do to prevent the situation from escalating and to help your case.
What to Do During a Traffic Stop in Ohio
- Pull Over When You First See the Police Cruiser – When a police officer stops you for an alleged traffic offense, pull to the side of the road quickly and safely. This will let the officer know that you understand what is happening and are complying. Use your turn signal and pull over as far as possible so as to not obstruct traffic. By pulling over quickly, you will be close to the area in which you have been accused of committing a violation and will keep a potentially combative officer from escalating the situation.
- Turn Off the Vehicle – By turning off your vehicle, the officer will know that you are not planning to run. Also, put on your emergency brake. If you are nervous, this will keep you from accidently bumping the vehicle into drive as you reach for your information in your glove box.
- Roll Down Your Window – When the officer comes to speak with you, have your window rolled down ¼ of the way. If your window is not rolled down, the officer will look at you with suspicion and wonder if you are hiding anything. When the officer asks for your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration, be polite. Nothing will escalate the situation quicker than being rude to the officer. However, by only having the window rolled down ¼ of the way, the officer will be unable to stick his or her head in your vehicle to smell for alcohol, marijuana, etc.
- Place Your Hands on the Wheel – This will put the officer at ease. The officer should always be able to see your hands at any given time.
- Do Not Reach for Documentation – Even though the officer will want to see your information, do not gather it until told to do so. Officers are trained to spot when a driver is reaching for hidden items or are attempting to hide something. By reaching for documentation prior to being asked for your information by the police, the officer may misconstrue your actions. You may be reaching for your insurance information, but the officer may think you are reaching for a weapon.
- Do Not Give the Officer a Reason to Search Your Vehicle – While the police normally are not permitted to search your vehicle during a traffic stop, it is not difficult to give the officer a valid reason to search your vehicle. From the beginning, the officer will shine a light into your vehicle and on your person. Do not attempt to hide or throw something out of the window. The officer is looking to develop probable cause (a reasonable basis to believe that you are involved in criminal activity) to search your vehicle. For example, if the officer sees a beer can or drug paraphernalia in “plain view,” the officer will have probable cause to search your vehicle.
- Do Not Consent to a Vehicle Search – You are well within your rights to deny consent to search your vehicle. The officer must establish probable cause to search your vehicle absent consent. While the officer may be able to develop probable cause to search your vehicle, don’t make the officer’s job easy by consenting. Moreover, doing so will make your attorney’s ability to defend you that much harder.
- Only Get Out of the Vehicle if Told by the Officer – Do not exit your vehicle unless told to do so by the officer. If you unexpectedly exit your vehicle, this will quickly escalate the situation. Instead, when asked by the officer, exit the vehicle calmly and with no sudden movements. The officer may frisk you for weapons if he or she believes you are armed.
- Speaking with the Officer – When speaking with the officer, stick to the facts and do not lie. If the officer accuses you of speeding, don’t argue with the officer. Also, do not offer unnecessary information. Politely answer the officer’s questions and give the required personal information.
- Questioning by the Officer – Let the officer do the majority of the talking. If the officer asks “do you know why I stopped you,” respectfully respond “no.” If the officer asks “do you know how fast you were going,” state “yes.” Do not incriminate yourself by stating that you may have been going too fast or admitting to violations. Often the best course of action is to say nothing and simply ask to speak with an attorney.
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a criminal or traffic offense in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your criminal or traffic offense case.