Being pulled over by a cop is never a pleasant experience, especially when you know for a fact that you have done nothing wrong. However, many people make unforgivable mistakes and expose themselves to legal troubles simply because they do not follow simple rules of how to behave during a traffic stop.
“How should you behave in California when pulled over by a police officer?” This is the question we asked our Los Angeles car crash lawyer at The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg.
What to do when you are pulled over by a cop in California
The first rule is to pull over as quickly and safely as possible. The police officer who pulls you over needs to understand that you are complying. Let him or she is in control of the situation. Otherwise, it might not be possible to contest a ticket later on.
When the police officer approaches you, stay in your vehicle, and roll down the window. Turn off the engine and place your hands on the steering wheel so the cop can see them. Also, if it is dark, turn on the interior light in your vehicle. Do not reach for your driver’s license, registration, or any other documentation just yet. Wait for the officer to ask you for it. The last thing you would want is for the cop to perceive your actions as a threat, thinking that you are reaching for a weapon.
Do not give the officer a reason to search your vehicle
Typically, police officers in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are not allowed to search vehicles during traffic stops when they do not have probable cause. However, many people give cops a valid reason to search their vehicle during traffic stops even when there was initially no probable cause.
Avoid any sudden or suspicious movements, as you would not want to give the cop an excuse to legally search your car. Our experienced car accident lawyer in Los Angeles explains that police officers have probable cause to search vehicles during traffic stops when they have a valid reason to believe that you are armed, dangerous or involved in criminal activity.
Also, if the officer sees something suspicious in plain view inside your vehicle, he or she may be legally allowed to search your car.
Do not get out of your car unless the cop asks you to
Many people in California tend to believe that the best course of action is to get out of their vehicle when pulled over. They would appear more sober, they think. But this is a huge mistake, as you should never get out of your vehicle during traffic stops unless the officer asks you to.
Exiting the vehicle without an officer’s permission sends him or her the wrong message: for all he or she knows, you may be going to fight or flee. If the cop has a reason to believe that you are armed, he or she can pat down your outer clothing.
How to talk to the officer when pulled over
When talking to the police officer who pulled you over, remain calm even if the officer appears aggressive. Also, do not panic, as panicking can make it look as if you are intoxicated (slurred speech, flushed face, etc.).
Be polite and never interrupt the police officer. Let him or her do the talking, and only answer when you are asked a question. Do not say anything that the officer can record and use against you later on.
The rules and regulations regarding a traffic stop in California can be quite confusing, which is why it is important to consult with a Los Angeles car accident attorney to learn more about your rights and responsibilities. Contact The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg and get a free consultation today. Call at 310-997-0904 or complete this contact form.