Getting pulled over by the police for a traffic violation happens every day. It’s often unexpected and takes people by surprise. The frantic feeling you get when you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror will definitely spike your stress level and cause you to behave differently than usual. This nervous reaction often is the cause of problems when it comes to being pulled over by the police. If you are one of these people, the following information will help your next experience run smoother compared to the past.

First Reaction

As soon as you notice the flashing lights from the police car, remain calm, slow down, put your hazard lights on and pull over to the side of the road and place your hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 position. As the officer approaches your car window stay quiet and wait for the officer to speak. Ask the officer for permission to reach for your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.

First Contact

Police officers that pull you over for traffic violations will often start the conversation with a question. The most common question officers ask is “Do you know why I pulled you over?” You will want to answer this question with a simple “no sir/mam.” Unfortunately, many people that are nervous will try to answer this question with answers such as, speeding, broken tail lights or expired tag. Don’t try to guess the answer. You are only giving the officer more reason to investigate more issues. Always allow the officer to tell you the reason. Once the reason is told to you don’t fight back. That’s something an attorney can do in court on your behalf.

Consent to Search Your Car

When being pulled over for a traffic violation you are being “seized” for 4th Amendment purposes. Which means your 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizures apply to the situation. Generally, police officers ask to search your car for a valid reason. These reasons include the smell of marijuana, visibility of other drugs and suspicion of weapons. At this point, you need, to be honest with yourself. If your car smells like marijuana or weapons are visible to the eye, the officer has reasonable cause to search your car.

In the past, many drivers have used their 4th Amendment rights to refuse the search of the car and have driven away peacefully. However, in today’s world, cooperating with police officers is essential to experiencing a calm situation. This means whether the officer has cause or not, let them search your car. The outcome is either going to prove the officer right or wrong.

During the process always remain quiet and follow the instructions given to you by the officer. Stand where they tell you and don’t make any comments. Cooperation is key to diffusing any issues that could arise during the search. Once the car search is over, ask the officer if you have permission to enter your car and if you are free to go. If a traffic stop and car search have led to your arrest, contact an attorney immediately for assistance.

Attorney Nathan Clark has a trial and appellate practice which includes high profile wins in the areas of Criminal Tax, Personal Injury, Family law and Homestead Rights. He has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the 5th Circuit Court of AppealsThe United States District Courts and the State Circuit Courts of both Florida and Mississippi.

He acquired a Masters of Law in taxation from the University of Miami and began his career as a member of the prestigious tax boutique firm Culverhouse Law Firm in Miami. He is a veteran of Florida & National Powerhouse Fowler & White. Clark currently specializes in the areas of Personal Injury, Federal & State Criminal Defense, Social Media Defamation, White Collar Criminal Defense & complex civil trials.

Mr. Clark can be reached at his offices at 305-255-7500.