Traffic Stops – How to end up at your destination and not in Jail.

Arizona has some serious DUI laws.  A routine traffic stop can seem like a huge problem and can induce unnecessary panic.  But, it doesn’t need to be that way. Here are a few tips to put yourself into a better position if you find yourself followed by come flashing lights.

  1. Pull Over, Safely.

When you see the lights flashing, move calmly yet quickly to the side of the road.  Don’t just over, or cut anyone off.  Slow down and put your signal lights on.  If you can, pull off on a side street or into a parking lot. Ideally, you would want to be in a well lit and public area.  Though rare, there are instances where people have posed as law officers and pulled people over (This includes former presidential candidate Mitt Romney).  A public area may be embarrassing, but it puts you into a safer position and gives you space.

If you are in an unsafe place, consider putting your hazard lights on.  The lights coupled with your reduced speed will put you in a better position to find a safe place.  Of course, try and find a safe place quickly as there is no need to drag out the process.

  1. Anyone else with you?

If you have anyone in the car, gauge their stress level.  Traffic stops can be extremely dangerous officers and a frantic passenger can aggravate their concern and impair their decision making.

If your passenger begins to tell you about potential illegal paraphernalia or warrants, stop them.

  1. Oh, do you have anything on you or in the car?

First, don’t panic.  If it’s not out in the open you may not have any issue.  If it’s out in the open or your car smells, you might have some issues and you should be ready to contact an attorney.  Quite frankly, if you typically carry illegal items or you have suggestive bumper stickers, you should probably make friends with an attorney (Consider our offices contact link).

  1. Be Direct with Respect

When the officer comes to your window, greet them, “Hello, officer.”  Don’t make a joke. Don’t offer information.  Just smile and be cordial.  You can even ask them how their day is going.  Be kind and relax and treat the officer like a human being.  Officers have feelings too.

If officer requests your ID, insurance, registration, or social security number, give it to them.  They may ask if your address is current.  Consider that Arizona has laws regarding how quickly you must update your address upon moving.  Think carefully when responding.

  1. “I am not aware.”

Regardless of how kind you are, the officer is going to ask you some questions.  The first one will likely be “Do you know why I pulled you over?”  You’re free to answer any way you like, but you won’t do yourself a favor by admitting to breaking a law. You shouldn’t joke either.  Save your jokes for when the officer likes you enough to come to your Sunday brunch.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, do not provide any information.  React with respect.

  1. Search my vehicle, “no, sir or mam.”

The officer may ask you if he or she can search your car. Unless you are absolutely positive that you are completely legally sound, it might not be a great idea to agree. It’s imperative, however, that if you say no, that you do it calmly and respectfully.  The officer needs to have a reason to justify his or her search of your vehicle and, absent consent; a nervous response can potentially provide that justification.  Please contact our experienced DUI lawyers in Tucson for a free consultation regarding your DUI or criminal charge.