Know Your Rights: What To Do If You Get Pulled Over in Missouri
Seeing those red and blue lights flashing behind you while you drive, can make even the calmest, law-abiding citizens a little nervous. But even if you have given the police a reason to pull you over, there is no reason to panic. Often, when people start to panic or get anxious about being pulled over, they make mistakes, some of which can cost them their driving privileges. As traffic ticket attorneys in Springfield, one of the things that we like to encourage among the community is following proper procedures when you are being pulled over.
Continue reading to learn more about what you should do when you get pulled over in Missouri, what the police are legally able to do, and your rights. This information could even help you get off with a just warning in the future.
Once you see the flashing lights behind you, you need to let the officer know that you are aware of them by slowing down and pulling over to the side of the road. This means pulling to the side legally, by using your turn signal lights to let the officer know where you plan on going. From here, it’s pretty straight forward, according to St. Louis Dispatch:
Keep both of your hands on the steering wheel and clearly in sight. Leave your hands here until you’re told to do otherwise. Fidgeting, looking for insurance forms, moving things around in the passenger seat, etc., can look suspicious to a police officer who can’t see what you’re doing.
Do not exit the vehicle unless you are asked to do so. This includes all other passengers in your car, as well. The new Missouri state law states that “getting out of the vehicle can be perceived as aggressive behavior and a threat to the police officer’s safety.”
If you need to grab your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration forms from under the seat or glove box, let the officer know this information and wait for permission before reaching for them.
Additionally, it’s essential to use proper etiquette when speaking to an officer. Being sarcastic or rude to the officer could make your situation worse and may end up in additional citations and charges. This also applies to all the passengers in your vehicle. Remain calm and be respectful to the officer.
Know Your Rights
Many of us have no problem adhering to the guidelines listed above. However, when the questioning begins, this is where some of us may run into issues. Consider the following when the officer is asking you questions after he has pulled you over:
Your Miranda Rights – Usually, when a police officer pulls you over, one of the first questions that he or she will ask is if you know why you are being pulled over. How you answer this and any subsequent questions could be used against you in court. For this reason, remember your Miranda rights. Miranda Rights state. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” Remaining silent is not an admission of guilt, so if you can’t answer the police officer’s questions without incriminating yourself, remain silent.
You have the right to refuse searches – While the 4th amendment protects your rights to refuse searches, it doesn’t require a police officer to tell you that you have the right to refuse, as is the case with Miranda Rights. You may verbally refuse a search by saying, “Officer, I do not consent to this search.” Never physically resist a search, only verbally. Just like remaining silent, refusing to consent to a search request is not an admission of guilt, nor does it give the officer the right to search or detain you, according to this article. Furthermore, if the police officer searches your car after you have verbally refused a search, the evidence they find during this unauthorized search will most likely be thrown out in court.
Don’t wait to be dismissed – When you’re pulled over, you can ask at any time if you are free to go. You have the right to ask the officer if they are detaining you or if you are free to go. From this point, the officer should either tell you are free to go or if you are not, let you know that you are being detained. If, for any reason, the answer is unclear, continue to ask, “Am I free to go?” until the answer is clear. Of course, as previously mentioned, always use proper etiquette and remain calm when speaking with the officer.
You can ask for a lawyer at any point – If you are being detained, the officer may suspect you have committed a crime. At this point, it is in your best interest to call on the fifth amendment (your right to remain silent) and ask for an attorney. Once you have said this, there is no reason to continue communication with any police officer until you have spoken with your attorney.
If you or a loved one has been pulled over and issued a traffic citation, even a minor violation, you need traffic ticket help in Missouri and fast. Contact Springfield Traffic Tickets to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and any possible defense strategies. We have handled thousands of traffic violation cases in Springfield, MO. Let the pros help you!