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What To Do If You Are Pulled Over By The Police

For most people, getting pulled over causes your heart to race, palms to sweat and an anxious feeling of not knowing what exactly to do. Where should you pull over? Should you turn your car off? Do you reach for your license, registration and insurance or just wait for the officer to approach your window and ask?  

While getting pulled over by the police is never a pleasant experience, what you do and say can have a huge effect on the outcome of your situation. Whether the traffic stop ends in a simple moving violation or an arrest for a more serious crime, your choices are critical.

Pulled Over By Police?

Below are important tips for if/when you get pulled over by the police in a vehicle:

  • As soon as you see the light flashing behind you, put your blinker on and pull over in a safe place, as soon as possible. If you deem the area unsafe to pull over, turn on your hazards and pull into the break down lane if there is one, so the police officer knows you have all intentions of pulling over. Then, stop your vehicle as soon as it is safe. 

  • The next thing you should do is shut off your engine, turn on your interior light, roll down your window part way and place your hands on the steering wheel. To be safe, is is best not to reach for your driver's license, registration or insurance card until you are asked by the police officer.

  • Know your rights - which is to remain silent. Whether you are a driver or a passenger, you do not need to talk. While this may upset the officer, it is your right. If you are the passenger in a vehicle that gets pulled over, you can ask the police officer (respectfully) if you are free to leave. Even if the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent. 

  • You also have the right to deny consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. The officer, however, can decide to "pat you down" outside your clothing, particularly if they suspect a weapon. You should never physically resist an officer; however, you do have the right to respectfully refuse to any further search after the pat down. You should be aware that as soon as you consent to a search, you are essentially waiving your Fourth Amendment rights, which protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures. Consenting to a search may harm your case, should you be arrested and have to appear in court.

  • The key to avoid escalating a situation is to stay calm. Even if you believe you are innocent of any crimes, never attempt to run, resist or obstruct the police. If you believe your rights are being violated, inform the officer that you are taking down his name and badge number. Then, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

  • Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says no and places you under arrest, you have every right to ask why.

  • You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately and contact Sheeley Law. Say nothing more until your Attorney Ann Sheeley arrives. 

We have made these tips available as a wallet-size card that you can download and keep on you or in your vehicle. Please click here to access these tips.

The police are here to protect us from harm and they are obligated to treat us all fairly. The majority of police officers follow the rules. Unfortunately, we've all seen the recent headlines. It is critical that you know how to react when confronted with a situation involving the police and you take steps to know and protect your rights.

If you have been arrested for a crime, you need to speak with an experienced Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer. Attorney Ann Sheeley will guide you through the process, protect your rights and thoroughly review the events leading to your arrest in order to uncover issues that could lead to a dismissal of the charge. For more information or a free consultation, contact Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney Ann Sheeley at 401-619-5555.

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