As a law-abiding citizen who follows the “rules of the road,” you have no reason to fear standard officer “pullovers.” However, how you interact with an officer during a pullover can significantly affect the outcome of your traffic stop. Even if you have nothing to hide, it’s a natural reaction to feel upset or anxious about being pulled over. Thus, Brave Law Center wants to help those with anxieties related to police officer interactions by providing a few tips on how to handle any traffic stop. Follow these tips, and you’ll be in the best position if litigation results from your pullover.
This is the most obvious tip of the bunch, but it cannot be stated enough. Staying cool, calm, collected and friendly throughout your traffic stop ease not only your anxiousness but the anxieties of your officer. Ensuring all parties stay calm and compliant throughout a traffic stop helps towards a quick and uneventful conclusion for everyone involved.
Usually, there are a few minutes between when you are pulled over and when an officer approaches your vehicle. In this time, prepare everything you think a police officer might ask for or need to see. For example, ensure your driving license is out of your purse/wallet, and your insurance info is out of your glovebox and ready to present. It is especially important to be prepared during a night stop. Having to rummage around your car in the dark is not only inconvenient but something that can put a police officer on alert.
If you believe you were pulled over unfairly or without justification, still comply with an officer and don’t argue or become combative. In doing so, allow the police officer to speak first and answer all simple questions you feel comfortable with giving a response to. For example, you should be safe to give an officer your license, insurance, name, address and date of birth if they ask for it. However, don’t become flustered if they continue to press you with questions. Instead, tell them you’d rather not answer such questions without an attorney present.
While Brave Law Center will always tell you to be forthcoming with an officer, you have certain rights to privacy per Illinois traffic law. For example, a police officer is not allowed to search your vehicle without your consent (with only a few exceptions). If an officer asks to search your vehicle and you’re uncomfortable with them doing so, you can politely but firmly tell them NO. If they ask again, maintain your refusal in the same manner. If the situation escalates to where a police officer searches your vehicle anyway, do not interfere. Instead, continue to affirm your lack of consent. While you should not physically interfere with an officer’s search, not giving consent makes it challenging for evidence in your vehicle to be admissible in court. It also provides a clear example of an officer disregarding the law, working to your advantage if charges are brought against you.
Even after complying with a police officer, don’t resist arrest if they require you to come with them to the station. Whether or not a crime has been committed and you are in the wrong or right, resisting a police officer throughout the arrest process can make life more challenging. Not only does resisting arrest make an officer more suspicious of your story thus far, but it can also add to the charges potentially being brought against you. One night in police lock-up is better than the steep fines and jail time you risk when resisting arrest.
While most traffic stops won’t require you to hire an attorney afterward, a traffic lawyer can still assist with potential consequences resulting from an arrest or citation. And for pull-overs where you have reason to believe you were profiled, stopped without cause, or were mistreated by the arresting officer, you ought to secure legal representation ASAP. Thankfully, the Brave Law Center team has plenty of experience managing traffic law cases throughout Central Illinois. Our team can assist with your case to help bring about a quick and positive resolution.
For questions about Brave Law Center and our service as a traffic law attorney for Peoria and the surrounding communities, contact us at 309-685-7900. Or, you can ask about our other practice areas, such as family law, real estate law, estate planning and more. Our office is located at 330 NE Perry Ave, Peoria, IL 61603.