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Know Your Rights

What to Do When Getting Pulled Over: 7 Tips

On a typical day, 50,000 drivers are pulled over. That equals over 20 million motorists every year.

Encounters with law enforcement are stressful. But the more you know about your rights, the better prepared you will be if you get pulled over. Drivers must be aware of what police officers can and can’t do at a traffic stop.

We’ve outlined some of our top tips for drivers when being pulled over by police. Let’s explore.

1. Make Safety a Top Priority

If flashing blue lights are behind you, pull over when possible. But don’t disregard your wellbeing. Many people panic and stop their vehicles in unsafe areas. 

Turn on your hazard lights and drive a little slower. This tells the police officer you are complying with the request. Continue driving until you find a secure space.

It is your right as a driver to wait to pull over until you feel safe. Choosing a secure area protects you, your passengers, and the police officer from harm.

The best places to pull over are well-lit streets or parking lots. If the officer is driving an unmarked police car, stop where other people are around. You can also call 911, give your location, and verify the vehicle belongs to a police officer.

2. Place Your Hands on the Steering Wheel

Once you have safely pulled over, turn off your ignition. Place both hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer. By having your hands visible, the cop will know you are not a threat.

Do not get out of the car. That will give the impression you have something to hide.

Roll down your window half-way. Leave enough space to hand any vehicle documentation to the police officer. 

If it’s dark, turn on your vehicle’s interior lights. Stay calm while you wait for the officer to approach. Any passengers should remain seated with their hands on their laps.

3. Ask the Police Officer Why You Were Pulled Over

Police officers in Louisiana require reasonable suspicion to pull over drivers. The reasons include speeding, running a traffic light, having a broken taillight, or swerving between lanes (reckless driving). Police officers must inform drivers of the reason they were pulled over.

If an officer asks why you think you were pulled over, you do not have to answer. Instead, claim you are unsure of what you did wrong and ask the cop to explain. 

Even if you know you broke the law, you do not need to confess. The Fifth Amendment states that a citizen may remain silent. An officer cannot force you to answer questions or admit wrongdoings without being in a court of law.

4. Give Documentation Once Asked

Do not supply the officer with your ID, license, or registration until he or she has asked. The officer must first explain why you have been pulled over before requesting documentation.

Don’t attempt to speed up the process by handing over your documents as soon as the cop approaches your vehicle. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel until the officer requests that you do. Reaching into your car could be misinterpreted as a sign of aggression or an attempt to hide evidence.

Once the cop explains why you are being pulled over and asks for your documents, supply your state license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration.

5. Be Polite

While you do not have to answer the officer’s questions or confess to wrongdoing, you should be respectful and polite.

If the incident was minor, you know you broke the law, and you don’t plan on fighting the ticket, apologize for your wrongdoing. Saying “I’m sorry” can be the difference between a hefty fine and a warning.

Conversely, a police officer may be pulling you over to issue a warning, but rude behavior can be the reason for a ticket instead. Talking to cops may be frustrating, but try to remain calm and collected.

Cooperate as much as possible. If you don’t agree with the traffic stop and plan on taking the incident to court, remain polite. Any aggression, frustration, and foul language can escalate the situation and make you appear suspicious of other crimes.

6. Record All Encounters

You may record your encounter with police using a dash camera. If you are recording, let the police officer know immediately.

Most states allow anyone to record police officers (as long as you don’t interfere with their work), but some states require all parties to consent. In Louisiana, it’s legal to record police officer encounters.

If you are using a dashcam, make sure you follow all of the protocols in your state. Some regions restrict dashboard camera placements because they obstruct the driver’s view. 

Don’t use your camera as a weapon. Just turn it on, let the officer know everything will be recorded, and continue as normal. The footage can be used later to ensure both parties complied with the law. 

7. Don’t Forget You Can Deny a Vehicle Search

Police do not need a warrant to search your car in New Orleans. However, they need to have reasonable cause. The officer may search your car if they see or smell anything in plain view. 

If you do not feel a vehicle search is necessary, tell the officer that you do not consent to the search.

If you have been pulled over within reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the police may search the passenger compartment and front region of the vehicle. But if the officer does not have probable cause, he or she may not conduct a full vehicle search without your consent.

If you have been arrested, police are allowed to search your vehicle without consent in New Orleans.

Have You Been Wrongly Pulled Over? 

Police officers are here to protect citizens and keep roads safe. However, sometimes the proper protocols are not followed. That’s when we step in.

If you feel that you have been wrongly pulled over, let our team help. We protect our client’s criminal records and ensure law enforcement officials are not abusing their power.

Contact us to learn more about what our expert lawyers can do.

Categories
Know Your Rights

What Are Your Rights? What to Know When Speaking to the Police

If you’ve been pulled over by the police and are being questioned by them, it’s hard to know what your rights are. Even though you have rights (such as remaining silent) the cop might imply that you have no choice but to do as they say.

Many people in New Orleans find themselves in this situation. They aren’t sure of what to do and rely too much on the police officer to guide them.

See below for an in-depth guide on what are your rights when speaking with the police. Be sure to remember these for the next time you’re pulled over in Jefferson or New Orleans.

Your Rights When You’ve Been Stopped

Most of the confusion on your rights occurs when you’ve been pulled over by a New Orleans police officer. You’re unsure of what you need to comply with and when you aren’t legally required to speak up.

See below for the rights that you have when you’ve been pulled over and are talking to the police in public.

1. The Right to Remain Silent

Anyone that’s watched a law show in the past knows the first part of their Miranda rights, which states that you “have the right to remain silent”.

However, not many people are aware that their right to remain silent begins as soon as you’re pulled over not only after you’ve been arrested.

This means that you don’t have to answer questions like “do you know how fast you were going?”, “where are you headed?”, or “what are you up to?”. You can choose to stay silent throughout to not damage your side of a potential court case.

Be warned, however, that you should state your interest in remaining silent out loud and right from the start. You will still be required to identify yourself when the officer requests it and they will more than likely arrest you if you refuse to.

2. You Have the Right to an Attorney

There’s a lot of confusion on this portion of the Miranda rights. You have two rights here: 1) the right to an attorney and 2) access to a government-appointed lawyer if you can’t afford one.

Be sure to take the time and find a trustworthy New Orleans attorney that you can call on in case of an emergency one day. Finding a reputable lawyer to work with will help your chances of winning the case from the start.

You’ll want to make sure and find a lawyer that has experience in the crime that the officer pulled you over for. For example, if you’ve been pulled over because you were speeding, then you’d want a traffic attorney to help you out.

3. The Right to Refuse Consent

If the officer suspects that there is additional evidence on yourself, they might consider conducting a search. Contrary to popular belief, you have the right to refuse the consent of that search.

While this might not stop them from conducting the search at the moment, your verbal refusal before they conducted the search can be used in your case.

Remember, an officer can’t conduct a search of your property without a warrant. State your refusal of consent early on, and if they search your property illegally, it will strengthen your case down the line.

How to Comply

Just because you have rights when being pulled over doesn’t mean you shouldn’t comply with the law enforcement officer. Whenever you’re speaking with the police, you should be respectful and honest with every decision you make.

Here are a few tips on how to comply and ease the tension of the situation for both yourself and the New Orleans officer that’s pulled you over.

1. Stay as Calm as Possible

While it can be intimidating and nerve-wracking to be pulled over by the police, remember to breath and stay as calm as possible. They’re human just like you are, and want to be treated with respect.

You can reduce the tension of the situation by being respectful and honest about exercising your rights. 

Lying or giving the officer fake documents (such as a fake car insurance ID) will only make matters worse. This will give them enough probable cause to arrest you and will weaken your case in legal proceedings moving forward.

2. Follow the Proper Process

It’s important to remember that even when you’ve been arrested, you still have the Miranda rights to protect you. But that doesn’t mean the officer(s) won’t try to get you to talk.

After you’ve been arrested, state your wish to remain silent once again and ask that you speak with your lawyer at once. If you have a lawyer in mind, be sure to give them the name so that they can make arrangements for you to speak with him/her.

You’ll be given one phone call, which you should use to call your attorney. Officers aren’t legally allowed to listen in on calls between yourself and your lawyer (thanks to attorney-client privileges).

However, if you choose to call a friend or a loved one, the officers are still allowed to listen in on the call.

What Are Your Rights: Memorize These for Future Use

You never know when you could find yourself talking to cops or answering questions after being pulled over. Remember what are your rights and how to use them properly.

Be sure to read this article for more information on the 10 things you should do to prepare for going to court.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.