By August 13, 2017 Read More →

‘It’s The Law’ by Greg Wilson- ‘Things to Know If You Are Stopped for A Traffic Offense’

‘It’s The Law’ by Greg Wilson

There are rules and regulations everywhere you look, and it’s important to be cognizant of the law.  As they say, ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse’, and a number of laws are important to know and understand.

In this series of articles, we will be explaining some of the laws with which you should probably be familiar, and today we will address the ‘Things to Know If You Are Stopped for A Traffic Offense’.

Pull over properly.

Slow down and pull off the road, usually to the right, when it is safe to do so.  Use your turn signal to indicate your intent to the officer.

Stay in the car.

Turn off the engine and turn on the interior light if it is dark.  Keep your hands on the steering wheel and stay in the car unless the officer asks you to get out.  This procedure is the least likely to raise concerns for the police officer.  Remember that the police officer knows nothing about you, and you know nothing about any descriptions he might have been given about cars and occupants involved in recent crimes.

Don’t act suspicious.

Avoid any actions that suggest that you are acting to hide, destroy or dispose of something.  For example, if an officer sees you lean forward, the officer may think that you have hidden an object under the front seat.  This may be enough for the officer to order you out of the car and search you and under the front seat.

Follow instructions.

Listen to what the officer is saying and follow the officer’s instructions.  The officer is in charge of the situation and it’s not over until the officer tells you that you can drive off.

Use your mouth carefully.

Don’t volunteer information and don’t argue.  Simply answer the officer’s questions, but don’t volunteer information or ‘mouth off’.  Save your arguments for the courtroom and tell your passengers to follow the same rules.

Presume that you’re being observed.

Nowadays, many police cars have equipment that visually records traffic stops.  Even without the video, the police officer will be observing your behavior for the police report, so don’t act strangely or furtively.

How much did you drink?

Police officers routinely ask this question and if you are like most people who have been drinking, you may say, ‘just a beer or two with dinner’ or some other underestimation about how much you drank.  That’s a mistake.  It’s always best to remain silent or answer that you cannot recall exactly what you had to drink.  Otherwise your ‘underestimations’ could come back to haunt you at trial.

Think carefully about BAC testing.

Think carefully about refusing to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) test.  Every state has implied consent laws.  That means that by acquiring a driver’s license you consent to BAC testing and refusing to take such test may result in harsher consequences than consenting.  However, if you are seriously intoxicated, it may be in your best interest not to take the test.

Don’t volunteer.

In most states, including Florida, you are not required to perform roadside evaluations to determine impairment.  Most people think they have to perform the tests requested by the officer, but you do not.

The officer uses the test to help him/her determine if you are impaired and to use as evidence against you in court.  Most people think they can take the tests and the officer will see they are OK to drive.

The vast majority of the time these drivers are arrested after performing the tests.  Since there is no requirement and no penalty for not taking those tests, don’t volunteer to take them.  Politely refuse.

If you are arrested, contact an attorney.

They say that ‘He who represents himself has a fool for a client’.  The prudent thing to do when arrested is to consult with an attorney, and we discuss that in another article, and you can read all of these articles on the website, www.GregWilsonLawFirm.com.

This series is not meant to constitute legal advice, and you should always consult an attorney when in doubt, when making life-changing legal decisions or when accused of a crime.  If you have a suggestion for an article, please submit your idea in email to greg@gregwilsonlaw.net.

Greg Wilson is an attorney practicing law in the greater Panama City, Florida area, with offices in Marianna, Chipley, Bonifay, Blountstown and Panama City.  For more information please call Greg Wilson at 850-600-7088 or visit his website at www.GregWilsonLawFirm.com.

 

 

 

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