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5 ways to avoid legal problems during a traffic stop

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2023 | Firm News

If a Missouri police officer has pulled you over, the last thing you want is to do or say something that escalates what may otherwise be a benign situation. For instance, an officer might stop you to inform you that your brake light is out. If you act aggressively in any way or say or do something to raise suspicion, the traffic stop might go from a minor issue to a more serious problem.

Keeping several things in mind can help you avoid legal trouble during a Missouri traffic stop. It is also important to know your rights and how to defend them, if you wind up in police custody for something, such as a suspected DUI. Remember, police must act in accordance with state laws and accepted safety standards when conducting a traffic procedure.

Do not attempt to exit your vehicle in a traffic stop, unless an officer says so

When a police officer approaches a vehicle for a routine traffic stop, he or she acts with caution, not knowing the driver behind the wheel and being unable to predict how he or she might act. If you make a sudden move or try to get out of your car, a police officer might interpret this as a sign of aggression, which is placing his or her safety at risk.

Unless the officer instructs you to exit your vehicle, stay inside the car. If, on the other hand, an officer tells you to exit the vehicle, you must comply with the request. Try not to make any sudden movements. Rather, calmly and slowly open your door and step out of the vehicle.

Always keep your hands visible during a traffic stop

If you do have to exit your vehicle during a traffic stop, or, even if you remain inside your car, it is always best to keep your hands where the police officer can see them. You may have seen movies in the past where police yell, “Show me your hands!’’ to a suspect. This might be an accurate depiction of what would occur if you put your hands into your pockets or hide them from view.

Avoid arguing with a police officer, even if you know you are right

You might get stopped for suspected drunk driving if your tires veer onto the yellow line. Maybe you didn’t consume any alcohol, so you feel defensive when a police officer makes a traffic stop and asks if you’ve been drinking. If you argue, it will not help resolve the problem and may even make matters worse.

Even if you know that a police officer has made an error in judgment, always try to stay calm, speak respectfully and avoid confrontation. In fact, you may invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, which can help you avoid self-incrimination.

Know how to defend your rights

An officer pulling you over in a Missouri traffic stop or taking you into police custody can be a distressing experience. If you know your rights and where to seek additional support as your case is fully adjudicated, you increase the chances of obtaining a positive outcome.