Even when you have not done anything wrong, any type of detainment in which a law enforcement officer has authority over you may put you on the defensive.
During a traffic stop, it is important to keep a level head. The way that you handle the situation can help ensure the best possible outcome for you and the officer.
Do not demand to know why an officer pulled you over. The way you address an officer should convey cooperation and respect. Remember, not all police are bad – they are trying to do their jobs. They want to get home safely to their families just like everyone else at the end of the day. Simply obey requests to hand over your license and registration. Any other inquiry from the police should be met with a polite, “I am exercising my right to remain silent.” If the police officer continues the conversation by saying something like, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, why won’t you to answer my questions.” Simply reply by saying, respectfully, “because I know my rights.”
In traffic stops within the state of New Jersey, law enforcement may ask drivers to step out of a vehicle. You are free to refuse if an officer asks to search your car. There are limited situations in which officers can avoid obtaining a search warrant before searching your vehicle. Never consent! Officers need consent to search a vehicle unless there is illegal contraband in “Plain View” or there are “Exigent Circumstances” to justify a warrantless search.
Keeping interactions simple can reduce the risk of misunderstandings. Do not volunteer information. Keep the conversation simple. Only answer biographical questions. Never answer questions about “suspicious activity.” Instead, invoke your right not to incriminate yourself in any way. Keep your hands visible at all times to prevent an officer from perceiving danger in your interaction. Do not attempt to leave the area until an officer has indicated that you are free to go.
Lastly, do not argue with an officer if you get a traffic violation, and do not resist arrest. You can challenge the outcome of a traffic stop in a Court of Law. Simply wait until you have the opportunity to remedy the problem using The Bailey Law Firm.