At Keith Metz Law, in addition to being a family law attorney, I also practice traffic law in Charlotte, NC. Do you know what to do at a traffic stop? According to the NC Department of public safety, in Mecklenberg County 2,362 drivers were searched at traffic stops throughout 2016. Whether that happens or not, it’s important to know what to do in that situation.
Even though I assist with many areas of traffic law from speeding tickets and safety belt violations to traffic light and stop-sign violations, the questions I get often have to do with traffic stops. I get questions like:
- What should I do?
- Do I have to stay there?
- How is the best way to deal with it?
When I think about these questions, what I find is the most useful resource is letting people know the rights that they have and how to behave when they’re pulled over. While it can be stressful, ultimately the police are there to protect us. Knowing what to do can be helpful for both parties.
Based on some resources from the ACLU and my years of experience in traffic law, here are some tips and tricks that could help you at your next traffic stop. This information is not intended as legal advice. In general, a lawyer is not expected to give advice until asked by the client and put advice in as acceptable a form as honesty permits.
1. Stop the Car When You Find a Safe Place
The place you stop the car in Charlotte, NC should be safe for you and the police officer. Once you get to that good place, turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window part way and place your hands on the wheel. When they come and ask for it, show police the following:
- Your driver’s license
- Your registration
- Your proof of insurance
2. Remember to be Cooperative and Polite
As stressful as it can feel, always remember to be cooperative. It’s always better to approach with kindness first rather than fear or anger. That means that the more you cooperate and the more agreeable you are, the better chance you have of it going well. Here are some general guidelines:
- Do stay calm and be polite
- Don’t interfere with or try to obstruct the officer
- Don’t lie or give false documents.
- Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.
- Do remember the details of the encounter.
All of these things will help you make sure the encounter is quick and safe.
3. Know Your Rights
You’ve probably heard of the Miranda Rights before, but do you really know them? Understanding your rights is so important for any encounter with the law. Here they are, broken down:
- You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, you need to say so out loud.
- You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home. That being said, if police believe your car contains evidence of a crime, your car can be searched without your consent.
- If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave. This is important: as politely as possible, after you’ve shown all documents you need to show and asked all pertinent questions, you can ask if you are under arrest and if you are allowed to calmly leave.
- You have the right to a lawyer if you are arrested. Ask for one immediately.
- Remember that, regardless of your immigration or citizenship status, you have constitutional rights.
Knowing those will give you what you need for any traffic stop you encounter in 2017. If you need to remember this or any other tips listed here, check out this printable and foldable guide from the ACLU.
One of the most important pieces of your rights is your right to consult with a lawyer, so why not consult a traffic lawyer in Charlotte, NC? The Metz Law Firm is a full-service family law firm located in Charlotte, NC. From minor violations like speeding tickets and safety belt violations to traffic light and stop-sign violations, The Metz Law Firm handles it all. Rather than handle your traffic violations case on your own, let a professional, experienced attorney work with you to find the best possible outcome. Start your traffic case today. If you’re interested, contact us for a consultation.