Being confronted by the police can be a scary experience. You may not know, or even have a guess as to why you are being pulled over, and you don’t know what could happen to your license as a result. The police have authority over you, and will use that against you if you are pulled over for any potential fault. It is important to know that there are driver’s rights protecting you from putting yourself at any unnecessary risk.
The attorneys at The Oliver Law Group, P.C. know that drivers often forget that they have rights, and are protected against unlawful searches, seizures and most importantly, they do not have to inherently fear police presence. They can defend themselves, armed with the knowledge that the law is on their side as well.
WHAT NOT TO DO IF YOU ARE PULLED OVER
In Michigan, there are certain behaviors you should avoid doing so as not to incur possible citations or be seen as an uncooperative party. If an officer pulls you over, they usually have a reason (that you are entitled to ask for) that they would like to discuss with you. Even if you are not sure of that reason, it is wise to adhere to a few basic guidelines that may improve the situation, and to avoid the following:
Coast for a prolonged period of time- When you see a police car following you with its lights on or siren wailing, it is important to begin to pull over immediately when there is a safe opportunity to do so. Activate your turn signal to acknowledge that you’ve received the officer’s signal, and do NOT coast for a prolonged period of time, passing by opportunities to pull over. This action will make you seem like a possible flight risk, aggravating the officer attempting to pull you over.
Take your hands off the wheel- Keep your hands on the wheel until told to do otherwise. The police officer pulling you over has no idea if you are attempting to reach a weapon or your wallet.
Exit the vehicle-Do not get out of the vehicle until and unless the officer tells you to. If you exit the vehicle prior to instruction, this gives the officer cause to think something is wrong.
Refuse to communicate with the officer- Being polite will not get you out of a possible violation or citation, but it will make you easier to communicate with you if you have any questions or concerns about your situation, and you will be seen as cooperative.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Many drivers are not aware of the rights they have when they are pulled over. It is easy to assume that we must comply without question, hand over our belongings and be subject to searches when stopped by an officer. However, this is not the case. When the police pull over your vehicle, it is important to know what behaviors to avoid, and which to implement to facilitate the best possible outcome from your encounter.
A police officer is normally not allowed to ask to search your vehicle for a traffic violation, but there are exceptions to this rule. They will be looking for anything incriminating that is laying out in plain view, such as illegal weaponry or open containers of alcohol. This falls under what is called the “plain view doctrine.”
You have a right to question the officer who has stopped you, but remember to keep your questions (as well as answers) short and to the point. If you are asked to exit the vehicle, comply. However, you are not obligated to turn over your belongings for search, especially your cell phone. It is a common misconception that you simply have to hand it over for a search without probable cause.
You are allowed to exercise your civil rights. If an officer does not have probable cause to search your vehicle, you do not have to give them access. Without a driver’s consent, an officer must have a warrant.
KNOW YOUR REPRESENTATION
The Oliver Law Group has represented clients in Oakland County and throughout Michigan who are entitled to protection of their rights. When stopped by an officer, the first reaction many of us have is to panic, but you don’t have to worry with an experienced attorney on your side. Contact us today, and know that your rights are protected.