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Navigating a Traffic Stop

August 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Rolling Meadows traffic violations defense attorneys, traffic stop, traffic stop violations, traffic violations, traffic lawyer, vehicle search, officer safetyPolice can use any number of possible violations as a reason to pull over a vehicle, from an expired registration or broken tail light to erratic driving or speeding. Sometimes, these actions alone constitute violations of an applicable traffic safety law. Other times, law enforcement may use these violations as a pretext to stop a vehicle and determine if another crime has been or is being committed. It is important for citizens to be aware of their rights when being pulled over by a police officer. Read on for advice on what to do if you are pulled over by law enforcement.

Conducting Yourself

If you see an officer attempting to pull you over, drive your car to the nearest safe spot on the side of the road. It is likely in your best interest to be as polite and courteous to the officer as possible at this point. Show you are willing to cooperate by rolling down your window and placing your hands on your steering wheel. Cooperate with any requests to see your driver’s license and registration.

It is important to remain in your vehicle unless the officer asks you to exit it. The officer is within his rights to ask you or your passengers to exit the car and stand on the side of the road, but you should not do so unless it is requested of you. While you should maintain a respectful demeanor in communicating with the officer, avoid sharing too much information or making admissions in the course of the conversation. Brief, straightforward answers are advised, as the officer may attempt to use anything you say against you later in court.

Search of Your Vehicle

There are certain circumstances under which an officer is permitted to further search you or your vehicle in connection with a traffic stop. One such circumstance includes a situation in which the officer reasonably suspects his or her safety to be compromised. In this scenario, an officer may be legally permitted to perform a pat-down of the vehicle’s driver. In addition, any clearly illegal object that are easily viewed by the officer upon the traffic stop may be seized. This may include empty beer or wine bottles, illegal drugs, or drug paraphernalia. If these objects are enough to constitute a criminal arrest, the officer may pat you down after placing you in custody to ensure there are no weapons or other items that can compromise officer safety.

Performing further searches of the vehicle, its contents, or any of the passengers in it usually requires probable cause, a higher standard that involves officers having a more definite justification that a vehicle’s occupants are involved in criminal activity. Police officers, too, can perform a more thorough search of a vehicle if given permission by the driver or possibly in connection with the driver’s arrest.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have experience defending clients who have been charged with traffic offenses in both Cook and DuPage County. Contact our Rolling Meadows traffic violations defense attorneys today to schedule a consultation.

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