The last thing you need on your way home from work at the end of a long week is to see flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror and a Massachusetts police officer behind the wheel of the car behind you. That is not the way you would typically want to kick off a weekend. You had lunch a couple of hours ago with some colleagues at work and ordered a glass of wine with your meal.
That may have you a little worried as you come to a stop and begin a process you hope ends rather quickly. There are definitely things you can do (or not do) that may impact the outcome of a traffic stop. Hopefully, you won’t do anything that works against your own favor. You’ve heard of other motorists facing DUI charges after only one alcoholic drink, and you’re not even sure whether you should admit to the glass of wine you had if the officer asks if you’ve been drinking.
Traffic stop tips to help mitigate your circumstances
When pulling over in compliance with a police officer’s request, it’s always best to stop as close as possible to the spot where his or her lights began flashing. The following list includes other practical ideas that may help you protect your rights and minimize the consequences of your situation:
- Sometimes, requesting to review the traffic area tips the scales in your favor in a traffic stop. If the officer says you failed to stop at a stop sign, and you can show that an overgrown bush or some other obstacle obstructed your view, it may help you avoid a ticket.
- It can be a knee jerk reaction to act defensively if another person, even a police officer, is acting aggressively toward you. During a traffic stop, however, it’s best to try to remain as calm and polite as possible. If the officer interprets your behavior as a possible threat, you may wind up in handcuffs.
- Generally speaking, a police officer needs to obtain a valid search warrant to search your vehicle during a traffic stop. However, if the officer thinks you are trying to hide something because of your body movements, it may be all the grounds needed to conduct an immediate vehicle search.
- Keeping your hands where the officer can see them is your best bet to avoid problems. Unless the officer asks you to reach for something, you want to remain calm and still.
- No matter what, do not ever get out of your car unless the officer instructs you to do so.
You do not have to answer any questions beyond basic identification information about yourself or your vehicle. If the police officer asks if you drank alcohol before driving, you may invoke your Fifth Amendment rights and request legal representation. By answering such questions affirmatively, you may be incriminating yourself.
If you face charges
A traffic stop may result in you getting a traffic ticket. It might also lead to criminal charges if the police officer suspects you of drunk driving or another crime. In any event, the type of defense you present in court may greatly influence the judge in his or her decision. This is why most motorists seek support in such situations from experienced defense attorneys.