How to Act When Your Vehicle Is Pulled Over
Summary: Understanding how to act when your vehicle is pulled over by a police officer will allow you to know your rights as well as what to expect in this situation.
When you’re pulled over by the police, you should be aware of all of your rights. About 3 percent of all traffic stops will lead to the vehicle being searched, which is one of the many situations where knowing your rights may be helpful. If you feel that your rights were not taken into account by the police officer who pulled you over, DUI attorney Denis Driscoll can help you determine what your options are.
Why Your Vehicle May Be Stopped
Vehicles can be stopped in New Jersey for a variety of reasons that include accidents, equipment violations, poor driving, and speeding. Police officers do not have the ability to pull drivers over without the belief that some violation was committed. However, officers can visually inspect your license plate and look up vehicle registration without asking you.
If the registration has been revoked or you do not have a license, the vehicle can legally be pulled over. If you’ve been charged with a crime after being pulled over, the officer must provide you with a reason for initially stopping your car. Equipment violations are typically the least problematic stops because they will usually be followed with a warning by the officer.
How to Behave During a New Jersey Motor Vehicle Stop
If you believe that the stop of your vehicle was not justified, wait until you speak with an attorney to say so. It’s possible that the officer who stopped you will leave you with a warning as long as you are respectful and exhibit good behavior. In the moments after you pull over, roll down your window and provide the officer with your vehicle registration, driver’s license, and insurance card. When the officer asks if you know why you were pulled over, always tell them the truth. Politely ask them “Why?” if you are unsure of the reason.
Make sure that you don’t apologize or ask them not to file charges against you because both statements can be viewed as admitting wrongdoing. If the police officer makes a note that you cooperated with him or her during the stop, this could be helpful during your court appearance. In the event that you are pulled over in New Jersey because of suspicion of driving while intoxicated, it’s a good idea to reach out to a DWI attorney.
When a Vehicle Search Is Legal
Once you’ve been pulled over, the police officer may ask to search your vehicle. This is particularly common when being pulled over for erratic behavior. The police officer must have a reason to search your car in order for this search to be valid. In most cases, a search of your vehicle without a warrant will be deemed unconstitutional. There are, however, several situations that make the search reasonable without a warrant, and these include:
- Some type of contraband being in plain view of the police officer
- The contraband providing a plain smell to the officer in question
- The belief that someone in your vehicle is at harm
- You providing the police officer with your consent
If you disagree with the search of your car or the cause of you being pulled over by the officer, you can contact the court to plead not guilty. When you make a “not guilty” plea, you can ask for a court date and should heavily consider contacting an attorney to help with your case. The court will then send you a notice through the mail that formally notifies you of the court date. If you’ve been charged with a crime that you did not commit, your lawyer can help you understand the law as it pertains to your charges. Keep in mind that an experienced attorney such as ours can help you mount a strong defense against the charges.
If you believe that you were treated unfairly when you were pulled over by a police officer or you’ve been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, contact our office to speak with DUI lawyer Denis F. Driscoll about your case. He can assist you in identifying your legal options.