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Fairfax Traffic Stops

Traffic stops could be a stressful and potentially risky situation to be in for any driver. While it is natural to feel uneasy when being pulled over, there are certain steps drivers are required to take during such events. Drivers could speak with an experienced attorney to learn what to expect from Fairfax traffic Stops. A seasoned traffic lawyer could help you understand your rights and how to conduct yourself during a stop.

What to do After Being Stopped

A person should stay calm and remain inside the car or the officer might conclude that the driver is a risk to them and their safety is in danger. The individual should not make any sudden movements or start opening compartments in their car. They should not be leaning over their seat to reach into the back seat of their car and should remain where they are and keep their hands on the steering wheel where the officer is able to see them. When the officer approaches the person, they should listen to their instructions. If the officer asks for their license and registration, they should be prepared to produce them after telling the officer where the items are located. As an example, a driver could state that their purse is on the back seat and could ask the officer if they could reach and get it for them. A driver could also say that their registration is in the glove compartment and could ask to retrieve it for the officer.

The more a person is honest with the officer about where their information is and how they will get it, the less likely it is that the officer becomes afraid or starts fearing for their own safety which could intensify the situation.

Dealing With Traffic Stops at Night

When someone is pulled over at night, more consideration is given that the driver is looking for a safe place to stop. More consideration is given to finding an exit, especially if there is no shoulder. If a person is able to find a safe place that is either beside the road or at an exit near where the officer turned on the sirens and lights, the driver may still be given the benefit of the doubt. Fairfax police officers understand that drivers want to be safe and are not likely to pull over for a traffic stop if they do not feel so. If a driver speeds up, there could be a chase. A driver does not want to be seen as eluding; they want to be seen as complying. While it is not something everybody thinks about, it is a good idea to keep the lights on even if they do not have their ignition running. If the officer approaches them and they must turn their car on to get the lights turned on, the individual should, at a minimum, tell the officer what they intend to do. The officer may have them put it in partial position rather than an entire full running position. Alternatively, individuals could also turn on their inside lights or headlamps to keep it as bright as possible. The person should keep their phone next to them in case something goes wrong.

Having the lights on allows the person to be seen by the officer. The individual may be able to see the officer’s badge and get their name and badge number on their uniform. They should write down the officer’s name and number. If drivers need to call the police department to double check that the office is legitimate with the right badge number, officers are required to allow the driver to do so.

How to Retrieve Registration From the Glove Box

Technically, there is no rule about getting a driver’s license and registration from the glove box. If a person has to lean over or use a key to open their glove box, they should tell the officer before reaching for the glove box or reaching for a purse behind the front seat. When someone leans or moves over, their movements may be perceived as far-reaching and aggressive. The officer may conclude they have a gun and the individual might find themselves being pulled out of the car because of the officer’s safety. Traffic stops are extremely high risk for officers and they might default to keeping their safety.

Drivers Should Turn Off the Engine and Roll Down the Windows

It is advised for drivers in Fairfax to turn their car off during a traffic stop. If they leave the engine running, they will be asked to turn it off. When someone leaves their car running, it could begin to heighten the situation of the traffic stop since the police may see it as a possible risk of flight. They could leave the traffic stop which means they violate the law even further and it could put other drivers at risk on the road. It may put their own safety at risk since many officers have been hit or run over in those situations where cars were left running and the person took off once the officer gets to the car.

The individual should turn off their car, keep their keys in the ignition or keep them in a place where the officer can see them. They should roll the window down enough where they can easily talk to the officer and pass their license and registration through the window.

How to Interact With the Officer

After the Fairfax officer approaches the driver’s vehicle during the traffic, they should expect the officer to make eye contact with them and verbal contact. They look into the window to ask the driver questions. Generally, the first one is, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” While the driver does not have to answer any of the questions, it might be a little more difficult for them if they do not answer. Anything they say, the officer could write down and testify to in court.

If the driver admits to speeding, it could be used against them. A simple yes, no, or ‘can you tell me’ are good answers to have. That way, it is on the officer to explain why they pulled the individual over. The officer may tell them a lot or not much. They are only required to tell the driver why they were pulled over, what traffic code they violated, and whether they are going to be ticketed.

The officer is not required to give this information to the person until they get their license and registration. The individual should be prepared to sit in their car after giving the officer their license and registration while they run their tags and license to ensure there are no outstanding warrants. In certain cases, officers check the person’s traffic record to see if there are prior traffic offenses. If that is the case, it is more likely that the officer will give them a summons ticket. While the officers could take the person to jail in certain cases and given specific offenses, this is not common. Most of the offenses are driving on a suspended license or driving while intoxicated. If there is a warrant for the person, the officer could take them to jail even if they were only speeding.

Questions and Information an Officer Might Ask For

Many questions are specifically targeted to the offenses the officer thinks was committed, and their traffic violations. The Fairfax officer may ask the person whether they know why they were pulled over in the traffic stop or what the speed limit is. In certain cases, the officer may ask the person whether they knew their lights were not on or whether they saw a traffic sign or red light.

The officer could ask the person for the spelling of their full name and may check the name on their registration and license. It is common for them to ask a driver whether they have a weapon or anything in the car that could harm the police officer.

Officers may ask where a person is coming from and where they are going. They look for indicators that might lead them to think this is not just speeding but there may be a DUI involved. The officer attempts to talks to the person long enough to determine whether they display indications of a DUI. This could include bloodshot, glassy, or watery eyes. They try to detect the smell of alcohol. The officer is looking for any reason the person committed a traffic offense other than they were speeding, made an improper turn or ran a red light.

A driver should expect to be questioned about who owns the vehicle, especially if the registration is not in that person’s name. If their license or their registration is expired, the officer questions them about that. All of these questions could be asked. The reason a person was pulled over typically determines the area of questions they may face.

Learn More by Speaking With a Fairfax Attorney

A seasoned attorney could explain how Fairfax traffic stops typically take place and what steps drivers could take to protect themselves during such occasions. After a stop, a driver could call a lawyer to learn their rights if they were given a traffic citation or are facing other legal consequences. An accomplished attorney could answer your questions and, if need be, help you determine what steps to take following a traffic stop.

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