How Can I Protect My Safety During a Police Traffic Stop?

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Connecticut criminal defense lawyer for traffic stopsTraffic stops have been a topic of discussion recently due to multiple incidents in which people were killed by police officers after being pulled over for minor traffic violations. The most recent high-profile case, which took place in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, involved Daunte Wright, a Black man, being killed after being pulled over for an expired vehicle registration. In that case, the officer claimed that she meant to use a Taser, but accidentally drew her firearm instead and fired a fatal shot. 

Unfortunately, these types of situations occur all too frequently. Many drivers, especially those who are minorities or people of color, worry that they will do the wrong thing after being pulled over, leading police officers to take violent action and injure or kill them. By understanding the right steps to take during a traffic stop, drivers and passengers can avoid being harmed and protect their rights if they end up facing criminal charges.

What You Should Do During a Traffic Stop

Police officers may pull drivers over for a variety of reasons, including speeding or other traffic violations, as well as issues such as expired license plates, broken headlights or tail lights, or because a vehicle matched the description of one that was involved in an alleged crime. In many cases, officers use these types of stops as a pretext to make a criminal arrest for drug charges or motor vehicle theft. If you are stopped by police, you will want to do the following:

  1. Pull over in a safe place as quickly as possible - Ideally, you will want to pull over in a safe, well-lit place that is away from the traffic on the road. However, if you take too long to pull over, this could raise an officer’s suspicions, and they may believe that you are attempting to flee or planning to conceal something, which may lead them to escalate the situation. 

  2. Keep your hands and movements visible - As the officer approaches your vehicle, you will want to put your hands on the steering wheel or dashboard and avoid any sudden movements. It is also a good idea to turn on the light inside your vehicle to make sure you are fully visible. If you need to reach for something, such as your driver’s license or proof of insurance, make sure to inform the officer of what you are doing.

  3. Record the traffic stop if necessary - You may want to use your smartphone to record your interactions with the officer and preserve evidence. When doing so, it is best to use a dashboard mount for your phone, but if you need to hold your phone in your hand, make sure to inform the officer that they are being recorded.

  4. Follow the officer’s instructions - You are required to follow lawful requests by a police officer, such as asking you to get out of your vehicle. 

  5. Know your rights - You have the right to remain silent, meaning that you can decline to answer any questions asked by an officer. You also have the right to refuse to allow police to search your vehicle. If you are arrested, you have the right to speak to an attorney before answering any questions.

Contact Our Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges after being pulled over by police, or if you have been subject to racial profiling or other forms of police misconduct, the Woolf Law Firm, LLC can provide you with legal help and representation. We will advise you of the best steps you can take to avoid a conviction, and we will help you address any mistreatment you have suffered at the hands of police officers. Contact our Hartford criminal defense lawyer today at 860-290-8690 to set up a complimentary consultation.

Sources:

https://www.vice.com/en/article/88n9y3/what-to-do-in-a-traffic-stop-police

https://www.acluct.org/en/know-your-rights/know-your-rights-stopped-police-connecticut

https://portal.ct.gov/DCJ/Programs/Programs/Traffic-Stops-Complaints

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