What to Expect At A Columbia Traffic Stop

For police to pull someone over, they must have probable cause of a traffic violation, such as the person weaving between lanes, speeding, touching the center line, issues with their license plate, or similar issues. A traffic stop, under the law of the United State Supreme Court, is considered a seizure, the Constitution allows us to be free from unreasonable search and seizures.

Once the person is pulled over, the officer is going to come up and ask them for their license, their registration, and probably other questions. Police ask questions to try to see if they can fish for any type of incriminating statements or statements which would later help with gathering incriminating evidence.

Following a traffic stop, it is best to reach out to an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable traffic attorney could investigate the stop and determine if the officer had probable cause. They could also advise you of what to expect at a Columbia traffic stop.

Where to Pullover

If a person sees sirens in their rear-view mirror, they should put on their blinker, slow down in as reasonable and safe a manner as possible, and pull over off the road as soon as possible. If they do not pull over in a reasonable amount of time and in a safe manner, that will escalate the issue.

A person should pull over onto the right-hand side of the road in the shoulder area that is entirely off the roadway. If there is no shoulder, then they should put on their blinker and go as slow as possible until they have a place to be able to pull over. They should not stop in the roadway and should wait instead for a safe spot to pull over off the road.

What Occurs When An Officer Approaches a Vehicle?

When the officer approaches the vehicle, the person should expect them to ask questions. Other than confirming their documentation, the person does not have to answer these questions.

Also, the person should not open the car door on their own. They should not do anything other than what the officer instructs them as far as providing a driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer will ask them to exit the vehicle if it is required. Other than that, they should follow instructions except for answering investigative questions.

In those investigative questions, the officers are on a fishing expedition looking for criminal activity or looking for the person to incriminate themselves. The officer will go to their car and run the information to see if there are any pending bench warrants, arrest warrants, or any other issues on hold from other counties.

If the person smells like alcohol, they can expect that the officer is either going to ask questions about it or ask them to step out of the vehicle to conduct a field sobriety test. They have a right to refuse any field sobriety tests that the officer asks them to perform as well.

What To Following a Daytime Stop

A person pulled over during the day should pull over as soon as possible in as safe a manner as possible. A person can let the officer know that they are looking for a safe place to pull over by putting on their blinkers, putting on their emergency lights, and slowing down so that it is clear that they are not trying to flee.

When a police officer approaches their car, they can roll down their window, they can hand them their driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration, and they definitely want to avoid answering any questions outside of requests for those documents.

Any questions beyond that are investigative questions, and they have a Fifth Amendment right not to answer them. They do have to prove that they are a licensed driver on the road, that they are insured, and that their vehicle registered and they paid their taxes. They should decline to answer those questions as politely as possible.

During a Nighttime Stop

At night, it is best to pull over to a lit area as soon as possible. The person should put on their blinker or emergency lights, slow down, and pull over when it is safe. The only difference between daytime stops and nighttime stops is that the person should find a well-lit area at night. Other than that, they should perform the same slow actions, inform the officer of any weapons, turn their car off, and decline to answer investigative questions as politely as possible.

Things to Avoid During a Traffic Stop

The person should avoid being rude, being disrespectful, and making quick movements that would put the officer in a belief that they are in danger. They should avoid answering any investigative questions like, for example, “how much have you had a drink tonight,” “where are you coming from,” and “where are you going.” They do not have to answer those questions under the Fifth Amendment.

When stopped, the person should be careful, making no quick movements and trying to remain as calm as possible. If they have their registration in their glove box, they should feel free to get it out of the glove box, but be slow and deliberate so that the officer does not feel that their life is in. They should turn their car off so that the officer knows they are not trying to flee.

If they have a gun in their glove box, they should wait before going into the glove box, tell the officer that they have a concealed weapons permit and that there is a gun in the glovebox. Still, they should move slowly and deliberately when getting their paperwork.

How a Traffic Lawyer Could Help

There are many things that could go wrong in a traffic stop, including making quick movements, opening doors without the officer’s permission, and hiding weapons or drugs.  It is best to speak to an attorney to learn about what to expect during a Columbia traffic stop. The traffic attorney could advise them of the things to avoid, as well as the steps leading up to the stop.

Call today to discuss your legal options with a tenacious defense attorney.