Traffic tickets. Almost all of us have been pulled over at one time or another for some alleged traffic violation and ended up with a traffic ticket. For some people, what starts as a routine stop for a minor traffic violation ends up becoming an arrest for a more serious violation, such as DUI, drug charges, or gun/weapon possession offenses.
It is important to know your rights if you are pulled over for any alleged traffic violation. To that end, we have compiled a list of 10 things you should know if you are stopped by the police in central Illinois. In addition to this list, you can also review the instructional video produced by the FBI Field Office for the Springfield, Illinois Division regarding how to conduct yourself during a traffic stop.
10 Things You Should Know:
1-Pull over to the first well-lit area on the right-hand side of the road. You do not have to stop in a dark and creepy location just because that is where the the officer first turns on his flashers. Slow your speed, put on your blinker or emergency blinkers, and find a suitable place to stop for the officer. This does not mean you can drive miles and miles, but it is important to know that you have the right to feel like you are in a safe location when you stop.
2-Have your driver’s license and proof of insurance ready.
3-Be polite to the officer. You get more flies with honey than vinegar, as the old saying goes, and police officers appreciate being treated kindly and with respect.
4-Keep your hands in view and avoid sudden movements.
5-Do not admit wrongdoing. Officers love to ask “do you know why I pulled you over?” It is okay to say “no” (because you do not know what reason was in the officer’s head) to that question. Do not give them reasons.
6-Exit the car if and when instructed to do so. Be polite. No sudden movements. And comply with the officer’s requests to exit the vehicle and where to stand once you have exited the vehicle.
7-DO NOT TAKE ANY TESTS. Should we say that one again? Do not take any tests. It is true that there can be consequences for a refusal to take some tests (please see our page on Statutory Summary Suspension for more information on one type of consequence), however, if you do not take the tests then the officer cannot score you on your ability to perform them.
8-Do NOT give permission for any searches. Be polite, but be firm, “No, officer, you may not search my car.” Or, “No sir/ma’am, I do not consent to the search of my vehicle.”
9-Do not resist arrest. Even if you have done nothing wrong, do not resist arrest. There are many reasons not to resist arrest. First, resisting arrest is often what leads to people getting hurt. Second, if you resist arrest then you give the State’s Attorney another (or perhaps the only) crime with which to charge you. Third, police often have video on their car or body, and if you are resisting arrest, even if you didn’t do anything wrong, you make yourself look guilty. Just be polite and comply.
10-If you are arrested, the only thing you need to say is “I invoke my right to remain silent and I want to talk to a lawyer.” Do not say anything else.
It is always nerve wracking to have an encounter with law enforcement. Being polite and respectful goes a long way to making the encounter easier on everyone involved. If you, or someone you love, has been pulled over and received a traffic ticket or been charged with a DUI or other criminal offense, please call our office right away.