Let’s say you just left a local restaurant in your Ohio neighborhood where you and a few friends were sharing a few laughs, drinks and a good meal together. Not long after you exit the parking lot, you see flashing red and blue lights in your rear view mirror and your blood pressure immediately begins to rise as you realize a police officer is pulling you over. You know that situations like this have a tendency to lead to OVI charges and that’s the last thing you need.
Everything you do from that point on may impact the outcome of your situation. However, if you’re already aware of your personal rights and know what to do and not do during a traffic stop, you may be able to avoid serious legal trouble.
Helpful things to keep in mind from the get go
How you respond to the flashing red and blue lights on the police squad car may be crucial toward the final analysis of your circumstances. Below, is a list of tips related to the moment you pull over and what you say and do once a police officer approaches your vehicle:
- The closer you can safely pull over to the exact point you first noticed the police lights behind you, the better. That’s because if the reason for stopping you has something to do with a particular area on the road, being close to the point on the road may be helpful in case you ask the officer to review the scene with you. For instance, if an officer accuses you of failing to stop at a stop sign, you can ask him or her to point out the exact sign you missed.
- Do not reach for anything inside your car unless the officer tells you to do so. Any type of reaching motion on your part may appear as a sign of imminent threat to a police officer.
- Equally important is to never exit your vehicle unless a police officer instructs you to do so. Some people mistakenly believe it makes a good impression or comes across as a sign of willingness to cooperate if they step out of their car as soon as they pull over. Chances are you are going to make your problems a lot worse if you do this.
- While you should politely answer any questions regarding your name, address or vehicle identification information, you are not obligated to discuss anything further with a police officer without benefit of legal representation. You may invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent calmly and assertively.
- You also do not have to consent to a search of your car. There is strict protocol governing police actions regarding searches and seizures. If you pay close attention to everything that transpires during your traffic stop, you may be able to use certain evidence to help mitigate your circumstances later.
It’s never a good idea to argue with a police officer who has pulled you over in traffic. Any sign of aggression on your part is just going to make matters worse. That goes for attempting to flee the scene as well; if you hope to be able to rectify your situation without long-term negative consequences, running away from a police officer who is trying to conduct an investigation is not conducive to a positive outcome.
You can, however, ask for legal defense help any time a police officer has detained you, and if he or she has asked you to get out of your car, consider yourself detained. Many Ohio motorists successfully avoided OVI convictions by knowing what to say and do ahead of time and where to turn for help when problems arise.