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Your rights during a traffic stop

On any typical day, you got somewhere to go and people to see. You’re cruising along until you look up, see lights, and hear a siren. It’s a traffic stop.

Criminal Attorney James Kelly said a police officer can pull you over anytime he or she observes some sort of traffic violation.

Drivers are required to show ID and insurance.

“It’s a crime to give a false id to a law enforcement officer, so of course make sure it’s a true ID,” said Kelly.

He explained that due to the fourth amendment, drivers can refuse a police officer’s request. That includes refusing an officer’s request to search the car without a warrant. But there are a few exceptions.

“As long they have probable cause to believe there’s contraband in the car or evidence of crime, they can search it,” said Kelly.

He added that drivers, however, must obey an officer’s commands.

“If the officer says roll down the window and you don’t, or get out of the car and you don’t that’s going to escalate into a very unpleasant situation.”

Drivers are advised to remain calm even if they dislike how an officer is treating them.

“It’s typically not going to do anyone any good to try to argue with the police on the side of the road,” said Kelly.

He said that the best way to handle a situation is by filing a complaint or going to court.

“Seek legal anytime that you get a citation. Sometimes even if you’re guilty of what they said. Legal counsel might be able to mitigate the situation.”

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