It can make your heart sink: Seeing the red and blue police flashers in your rearview mirror. You are being pulled over.
We have all hear about bad encounters with police officers at a traffic stop, but drivers should also understand that traffic stops are some of the most contentious encounters they experience.
First, the police car will park behind you and run your license plate before approaching your vehicle. They are looking to see if you have any priors. Then, they will approach your car.
Once you have rolled down your window, the most important thing to remember is to not make any sudden movements – keep your hands on the wheel. Police are worried about someone reaching for a gun, trying to stash away contraband, or throwing something out the window. Even a quick duck for your wallet could be noted by the officer.
If you have to reach into a compartment to get your registration or insurance, keep your hands on the wheel, and first tell the officer, “I am going to open the glove compartment to get my registration, is that OK?” Once the officer gives the OK, then, slowly, retrieve your registration.
It is also a best practice to respond to every question with “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am” – no joking around or being sarcastic. This behavior can especially be problematic for younger drivers or new, teen drivers who the officers may believe already have an attitude.
You should also know that police may find any reason to search your car. It could be that the car simply smells like marijuana, whether that is credible or not; perhaps someone in the car smells like they have alcohol on their breath; maybe they believe they see drug contraband or a weapon, even if it is just a cigarette box or the handle of your ice scraper.
The bottom line is that, if they want to give you a hard time, they will. But it will only help your case if you continue to be polite and cordial with the officer. No case has ever been helped by a driver being rude or disorderly in front of the police. Often times the event is caught on camera, and in rare instances, audio is also caught.
If you are asked to get out of your car, once again, do not make any sudden or quick movements. Do whatever they officer may ask of you.
Lastly, make sure you know who you are in the vehicle with. If one of your friends has drugs in their pocket, even if nobody else knew, everyone in the car could be busted for possession of drugs or loitering in the presence of drugs. The charge might not hold up, but it is certainly one you don’t want to face.
If you are facing criminal charges, Mark Mandell is an experienced Metro Detroit defense attorney and a former prosecutor. Call Fausone Bohn, LLP today at (248) 468-4536, and find out how Mark and our other defense attorneys can help you.