Whether you’re planning on a road trip for your upcoming vacation, or renting a car at your business destination, remember that all towns have their own laws and their own attitudes about which ones are more important than others. And, while you’re looking for the next turn or changing lanes, you may entirely miss the cameras installed at so many intersections these days; some areas will even cite you for being in the middle of the street during any time the light is red, where other places it’s fine as long as the light was green or amber when you first entered the intersection. Driving is getting very complicated.
Just about everyone has felt that sinking feeling in their stomach when they see flashing blue lights in their rear-view mirror. From that point forward, it becomes a game of chance as to whether they’ll be sent on their way with a warning, fined for a traffic violation or even worse, arrested.
Most people feel completely out of control when they are pulled over. But there are actually a few rules that, if followed, would increase their chances of a positive outcome. Luckily, many of these rules are simply related to what we say.
What is Required During a Stop?
A person has several rights when they’re pulled over for a traffic stop. In fact, once pulled over, there are only a few things that they are actually required to do. When the police stop a person and request their license, registration and proof of insurance, that information must readily be given. In most areas, there’s no duty to answer any of an officer’s questions, not even if they simply ask for a name.
Keep in mind that police officers will already have a person’s name when they have license in hand, so there’s really no reason to withhold that information if they ask. But individuals aren’t required to answer any questions whatsoever, and they can even choose to only roll the window down far enough to have a conversation with the officer.
It’s important to note, however, that exercising these rights may make the officer suspicious and bring about more exacting attention; so being assertive when no huge violation has occurred can do more harm than good. This isn’t the time to get into a tug of war in semantics with an officer who, if given a reason to be concerned, can bring in a whole new set of rules.
What Not to Say
Though there are only a few things that a person must do during a traffic stop, the things that they should refrain from saying are numerous. First, it’s important to not start off the conversation in a confrontational way. This means, “Why am I being pulled over?” shouldn’t be the first thing out of a person’s mouth. It’s important to always let the officer start the conversation and remain amenable throughout the interaction.
Unfortunately, some people know that they’ve broken the law by drinking and driving. If this is the case, the individual should never admit that they’ve had any amount of alcohol. This is the point where it’s important to exercise the right to remain silent.
Accident in Another State?
It’s bad enough getting hurt in a car wreck, but when you’re on unfamiliar ground it can add insult to injury. Remember if anyone is injured, it’s going on everybody’s insurance policy. So, it’s not the thing to do to claim you’re hurt unless you really are. On the other hand, sometimes injuries don’t show up until the next day – such as strains and muscle pulls.
If someone has run into your vehicle, and there are damages, you will want the police to show up. This will provide better documentation, and it is also best not to take someone’s promise to pay and exchange phone numbers. You never know what you’re getting into with that kind of scenario. That said, many police will not come to the scene and write a report if there is only vehicle damage and it happened on private property, such as a store parking lot.
If you’ve had quite a jolt and sustained even minor injury, take your time and go through the process. You could be in for medical costs, loss of work and even future surgery, not to mention out of pocket repair costs for your vehicle. Again, it is better to not make statements at the scene, until you’ve had an opportunity to speak with legal counsel.
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