How To Act At a Traffic Stop in Virginia
Although being pulled over by law enforcement can often be intimidating and frightening, it is important you take the necessary steps to keep your situation from getting any worse. With this in mind, the following is information on how you should act when pulled over by police and what rights you have. If you believe your rights may have been violated or you would like to challenge your ticket, consult with a Virginia traffic lawyer today.
What To Expect When An Officer Approaches Your Vehicle
The first thing you should expect when an officer pulls you over is for them to ask you a handful of questions. Sometimes the officer will choose not to, but at a very minimum they will likely ask you for your license and registration, which they will then take back to their vehicle and run you through the system. The officer will then return after a brief period of time and give you your documents back and either decide to let you go with a warning or issue you a traffic ticket.
The best thing to do is really just let the officer run the show. You should be polite and cooperative but if you are unclear on why you are being pulled over or what you are being charged with, sometimes it is okay for you to just ask generally, “why am I being pulled over” or “what are you charging me with?” But it is usually a better idea to leave any kind of argument or questions like that later for your attorney to handle.
While an officer is talking to you, your hands should be on the steering wheel on a visible spot so the officer does not think you are trying to hide anything or reach for any type of weapon. Additionally, you should never exit your vehicle unless the officer asks you to.
Do You Have To Answer The Officer’s Questions?
The only questions you are required to answer are the general information-related questions such as your name and whether the vehicle belongs to you. If the officer asks other questions such as: “do you know why I pulled you over” or “why were you going that fast,” then you do not have to answer those types of questions. It is important however to stay polite and cooperative throughout the entire ordeal.
There is nothing in it for you if you decide to be rude, except a possible conviction later because the officer is upset and he decides to testify about what an inconvenience and hassle you were when he pulled you over, which may give the judge less reason to be lenient.
After you have provided your license and registration, you can expect the officer to take your information back to his vehicle where he will run it through the system and decide whether he’s going to write you a ticket or not, and then he will return all of your documents to you with the speeding ticket if he decides to give it to you.
What To Do Once You Are Given a Ticket
If there is any kind of mistake on the ticket, they’re completely correctable later. There is not really anything that needs to be looked at immediately on the ticket so it is acceptable to look at it later.
What If You’re Pulled Over By An Unmarked Car?
If you are concerned that you’re being pulled over by someone who you’re unsure is actually a real officer, then you may ask the officer if you can see his badge. It is also okay for you to tell the officer that you’re concerned for your safety and call the Police Department to verify that the person standing in front of you claiming that they’re an officer is in fact a legitimate real police officer.
Biggest Mistakes To Avoid During a Traffic Stop in Virginia
The biggest mistakes to avoid during a traffic stop are alarming the police officer in any way and incriminating yourself. You want to make sure that you do not do anything suspicious or that may come off as suspicious even if your actions are entirely innocent, because this can open the door for the officer to search your vehicle and really just inconvenience you in a whole bunch of other ways.
You always want to avoid having your vehicle searched and you also want to avoid being frisked by an officer who believes that you might be hiding a weapon. With that said, it is also important to not incriminate yourself by admitting that you have broken the law.
If you answer the questions the officer asks, such as why were you going that fast, with an explanation or excuse, then you admitted that you were going that fast and you killed half of your defenses in court before you even stepped into the court room.