Anytime you’re stopped by the police, it’s a nerve-racking experience. If you don’t follow protocol, things could take a turn for the worse several different ways.
With that said, you also have rights that are to be abided by the police officer. If they violate your rights and improperly punish you, you have the legal standing to fight your penalties.
Due to violent situations that have occurred between private citizens and police, try your hardest to remain calm in any situation with an officer.
Many people forget this in the heat of the moment, but you and your passengers have the constitutional right to remain silent. If the officer asks you to act, like to step out of the vehicle, it would be wise to comply, but you can do so silently.
If you are a passenger, you have the right to ask if you’re free to leave. If you are, do so silently.
Reducing your risk
To lower the chance of an escalated event, perform the following actions:
- Pull the vehicle over to a safe area as soon as possible
- Unless you’ll freeze without the heater running, immediately turn off the vehicle
- If the area isn’t well-lit, turn on a dashboard light
- Partially open the window and place both hands on the steering wheel to indicate you are open to cooperation
- Be ready to show the officer your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration
- Make sure the officer can always see your hands
- Stray from any erratic movement that could startle the officer
Were your rights disregarded?
To favor your case, try to remember and note as many details of the stop as possible. These details include the officer’s name, badge number, patrol car number, which agency the officer is from, and any other information you find relevant.
If you sustained an injury, get medically treated and take photo or video evidence of the possible abuse.
If you were also charged with a crime, it’s important to immediately seek council.
Filing a complaint
Lastly, if you feel your rights were infringed upon, file a formal complaint with the internal affairs department associated with the officer the pulled you over or a civilian complaint board. If you are
Anonymous claims are often allowed, so it’s up to you whether you wish to attach your name to the complaint. Also, keep in mind that the circumstances can dictate your rights and how to cooperate with the officer.