Getting pulled over can mean different things to different people. For some drivers, getting pulled over is just an inconvenience on the way to their desired destination. On the other hand, some drivers are disturbed and frightened at the thought of having a police interaction. Some drivers remain calm and are able to speak to an officer and follow directions without a problem, while others will get sweaty and start panicking. As getting pulled over is a common occurance, it is important to understand what being pulled over entails.
Once it becomes evident that a police cruiser that has lights and sirens on is not passing you and instead pulling you over, questions may run through your mind about what you did wrong or why you are getting pulled over.
Regardless, you should pull over to the side of the road as soon as you safely can. The most important thing to do is to place your hands on the steering wheel and speak to the officer as calmly as possible. You do not need to do or say anything other than following the officer’s directions like getting your license and registration, giving your name, and stepping out of the car upon request.
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If you have been pulled over, there is a chance that the police may try to search your vehicle. There are certain circumstances that give police the authority to search a vehicle after a traffic stop. In some cases, the officer may stop the vehicle in order to search it. They may use a traffic violation as a pretext to do so.
The first instance in which police can search is when the driver consents to the search. There is no obligation to give this consent. When the officer asks the driver if they consent to the search, the driver can state that they do not give consent. Even if the police subsequently conduct a search on another basis, at least the lack of consent will be noted.
Another basis for authority to search is when the officer has reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion means that the officer can reasonably articulate a belief that the driver is concealing something illegal or dangerous in the vehicle. Unlike homes, vehicles may be searched without a warrant when there is this reasonable suspicion. Lastly, a police officer can obtain a warrant to search the vehicle, which does happen under certain circumstances.
One additional area of concern when it comes to getting pulled over by the police is that some police officers drive unmarked cruisers, which can be scary, especially if there is nothing about the vehicle that can assure the driver that the police are actually pulling them over. In Connecticut, you must pull over for unmarked cruisers, even if the cruiser is not marked with lettering or visibly mounted emergency lights. If you have been pulled over by an unmarked police cruiser, you can ask the police officer to display their badge of office and identify themselves if they are not in uniform at the time of the stop.
During the stop by the police officer, you should never attempt to drive away or get out of the car without request from the officer because you can face additional charges for attempting to flee as well as put your own safety at risk. Police officers have the authority to hold a person for as long as it takes to reasonably perform their investigation and no longer. After complying with the officer’s request to give your license and name, and after the officer has finished asking questions, you should ask the officer if you are free to leave and not just assume that the officer is finished.
If the police officer has probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime, such as DUI, the officer will likely ask you to step out of your vehicle and will arrest you by placing handcuffs on your wrists and placing you in the back of the cruiser. If this happens, it is best to remember that you have the right to remain silent, and trying to talk your way out of it or explain to the officer can only do more harm. It is best to comply with everything the officer does and immediately contact an attorney as soon as possible.
If you have been stopped by police and have received an infraction, been arrested, or believe that law enforcement violated your rights, it is important to contact a lawyer who understands the law and Connecticut procedure. Contact Lady DUI today to get assistance after you have been pulled over.