As a resident of Missouri, chances are you’re familiar with the upsetting sight of a police car flashing its lights behind you while driving. Although the experience is usually scary, it doesn’t have to be. Even when you’re certain that you’re on the wrong side of the law, knowing what to do at that moment can save you a lot of stress, penalty, or even jail time.
Keep reading to learn what you need to do each time you get pulled over in Missouri.
Slow down and pull over
The first thing you need to do when you see a police car alerting you to pull over is to acknowledge the order by slowing down and pulling over. Look for a safe spot on the side of the road that is closest to where you first noted the alert.
Sit in your vehicle and try to be calm and collected
As the police officer walks towards your car, keep your hands on the steering wheel and avoid doing anything unless the police officer instructs you otherwise. Make sure your seatbelts remain fastened and encourage anyone else in your vehicle to do the same. Remember that police officers are trained to anticipate people exiting their vehicles without any instruction to do so; therefore, don’t attract suspicion by making any unusual movements.
Remember to roll down your window, switch off the engine and turn on your car’s interior lights if it’s dark to enable the officer to see inside your car. When you do that, return your hands to the steering wheel so that they remain in sight. You can let the police officer know if you have to reach for a document.
Maintain the right etiquette while speaking to the police officer
Many drivers who use foul language or appear condescending or rude towards police officers after being pulled over tend to make their situation worse. You should always try to be polite as much as you can to avoid any unnecessary issues. Being disrespectful can raise suspicion or give a police officer a reason to confirm their suspicions.
Don’t admit guilt, and keep your rights in mind
Although you may adhere to the guidelines above, you may run into problems when the questioning phase begins. Remember that you have the right to remain silent, and you can request an attorney if you deem it necessary. Secondly, being silent is not in any way an admission of guilt. That means that if you find yourself in a situation where you feel that answering the police officer’s questions will incriminate you, stay silent.
Generally, if you are asked why you were stopped, say that you don’t know. Try to give noncommittal answers, such as “fine” or “I see” to reduce your chances of a guilt admission.
Did you know that you have the right to refuse a police search? According to the United States Constitution, any unreasonable search or seizure is unlawful. If the police officer asks to conduct a search, ask them to produce a warrant or a probable cause before allowing them to conduct the search.
Contact an attorney
We understand it can be nerve-wracking to get pulled over by law enforcement, but mistakes happen all the time. If you need more details about how to protect yourself when you get pulled over, contact the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center today. Call (816) 322-8008 to get started.