It can be frightening to see flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror. When law enforcement stops you, they must have a valid reason to do so, such as seeing you have a taillight out or noticing erratic driving. Once you pull over, it is important to conduct yourself appropriately to avoid an escalation of the situation. It is also important to know what to expect regarding police procedure.
Once police approach your window and start asking you questions, what you say and do matters. It is important to handle interactions with law enforcement carefully. For example, law enforcement may misconstrue any sudden movements you make as a sign you have a weapon. It is in your interests to stay calm, act rationally and think clearly.
Helpful hints during a traffic stop
No matter what police think you did, you have rights. You do not have to answer questions, and you should not admit guilt to any crime. If you provide incriminating information, it can lead to a search of your vehicle or even an arrest. Other things you may need to remember include:
- You do not have to grant permission for law enforcement to search your vehicle if they ask to do so.
- If you choose to remain silent, police cannot use your refusal to talk as permission to conduct a search.
- If police have reasonable suspicion that something dangerous or illegal is in the car, this could be legal grounds to search your car, even without permission.
- If law enforcement impounds a vehicle, police have full authority to perform a search.
There are specific things law enforcement can and cannot do. If they deviate from procedure, it could directly impact the case against you. If you experienced a violation of your rights or there were problems with how the police handled your traffic stop, it could invalidate any evidence against you connected with the traffic stop.
Your right to a defense
Regardless of why law enforcement pulled you over or what you are charged with, you have the right to a defense and to protect your rights. It may be helpful to discuss your case with an experienced Kentucky defense attorney who can assess your situation and identify the most appropriate way forward. If you are facing charges, you do not have to face them alone.