The vast majority of people are law abiding citizens who do not get into trouble (at least any serious trouble). Thus they are often nervous, and maybe a little scared, if they are stopped on the roadway by a police officer. They don’t know what to do or what can happen. So here are some things to keep in mind should this ever happen to you.
Don’t Panic. Chances are, you were just speeding, didn’t signal a lane change, or didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign or light. In other words, it’s most likely no biggie. If the police officer appears stern and unsmiling, that is just because he or she is on high alert; one of the two biggest threats to their safety (believe it or not) is a motor vehicle stop. You are not the threat, so don’t take it personally. Stay calm, remember these tips, and you should be fine.
Don’t Fail to Pull Over. If it is clear that those flashing lights and sirens apply to you, then pull over at the earliest, safest opportunity. If they don’t apply to you, then the patrol car will pass you by. If you don’t pull over in a timely fashion, the officer may write you for “Eluding,” which is a serious charge.
Don’t Be Rude. The officer is just doing his or her job, so be polite and cooperative. Provide your license, registration, and insurance. If you think the officer was wrong to give you a ticket, do not argue. That is for a courtroom in front of a judge. Just accept the ticket(s) and say thank you. Being nice can go a long way when you do get to court.
Don’t Be Talkative. The officer may well ask you questions that are designed to elicit incriminating answers, like, “Have you been drinking?” or “Did you see that stop sign back there?” You do not have to answer those questions under the Fifth Amendment, so don’t do it. State that you are asserting your Fifth Amendment rights or that you want a lawyer. If the officer says that the right does not apply because you are not in custody, ask him if you are free to leave. If he says no, you are in custody. If he says yes, then tell him you are leaving and do so!
Don’t Let the Officer Search Your Car. The rules about searching a car without a warrant are becoming tougher for the police, so they may want you to make their job easier by consenting to the search. Do not do it! They need probable cause to do so, and if they do not have it, anything they do find in a search (if you do not consent) will be thrown out. If asked, tell him that you are standing on your Fourth Amendment rights and do not consent to a search.
Knowing what to do and what not to do can make things go much easier for you if you are ever stopped. Be sure to keep these in mind should it happen to you.
So What Do You Do After the Stop?
If you have received a ticket in southern New Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule an appointment for a free consultation in my Woodbury office. If you are out of state or out of the area, this can be done by phone
If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's traffic laws, then download my free book, A Guide to Driving Legally in NJ, and Surviving Traffic Court If You Don't.