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Former Chief Prosecutor Of Loudoun County

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Know your rights during a traffic stop

| Aug 22, 2016 | Criminal Defense, Traffic Violations

In recent months and years, disturbing video footage has surfaced on social media sites depicting the aggressive and sometimes violent exchanges between motorists and police officers. Additionally, alarming statistics have come to light related to racial disparities and specifically the disproportionate number of traffic stops and violations involving African-American drivers.

For anyone, being pulled over by a police office can be a nerve-wracking experience and a nervous driver can inadvertently say or do something that a law enforcement official can use against him or her later on. To avoid the confusion and unfortunate violations and criminal charges that can result after a traffic stop, it’s important to know your rights as well as what you should and shouldn’t do during a traffic stop.

Your Rights During A Traffic Stop

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • You have the right to refuse a police officer’s request to search your person or vehicle
  • You have the right to leave the scene, provided you are not under arrest

What You Are Required To Do During a Traffic Stop

  • When asked, you must show a police officer your driver’s license and vehicle registration
  • If asked, you must exit your vehicle

Your Rights If You Are Arrested

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • You have the right to make a phone call
  • You have the right to an attorney

Your Conduct During A Traffic Stop

  • Be calm and polite
  • Don’t lie. If you don’t want to answer a police officer’s question, inform him or her that you are exercising your right to remain silent
  • Don’t attempt to interfere with a police officer’s activities or resist arrest

In the event that a traffic stop ends in an arrest and the filing of criminal charges, it’s important to contact an attorney. A criminal defense attorney will thoroughly review the evidence and work to obtain a dismissal or reduction in charges.