What to Do at a Traffic Stop

In 2019, almost four million drivers were stopped by law enforcement in California. Being pulled over can be a very nerve-wracking experience, especially if you are demanded to take a breathalyzer test or asked to have your vehicle searched.

If you are involved in a traffic stop in California and suspected by law enforcement of committing a traffic violation or crime, you must understand your legal rights. Whether you end up being arrested or not, you should speak with an experienced Riverside, CA criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Traffic Stop Dos and Don’ts

When you see a police car behind you with its lights flashing, you should pull over to the right side of the road (preferably the shoulder) as soon as safely possible. If there is no shoulder, make sure to find somewhere to pull off that is away from any traffic.

During a traffic stop, you should follow these instructions:

  1. DO put on your turn signal
  2. DO pull over slowly and with care
  3. DO try to stop the car in a well-lit area (at night)
  4. DO turn on interior lights
  5. DO keep your hands on the wheel and await officer instructions
  6. DON’T stop in traffic
  7. DON’T get out of the car unless requested
  8. DON’T throw anything out of the window

When a police officer approaches your vehicle, be polite and respectful but say as little as possible.

What If the Police Want Me to Take a Breath Test?

The police may ask for a breath test if they suspect you of driving under the influence (DUI). In most cases, you are allowed to refuse, unless you are formally taken into custody. However, California law does require drivers under the age of 21 or on probation for DUI to submit to a DUI test even if they haven’t been arrested.

While you are not required to take a breath test in most instances, there are pros and cons to declining. On one hand, the police will have less evidence to charge you with a DUI. On the other hand, refusing to submit to a DUI test will give a police officer more reason to arrest you.

What If the Police Want to Search My Vehicle?

Unless you’ve been arrested, a police officer must either have a warrant or your permission to legally search your car. If you are asked by the police if they can look inside your vehicle, politely decline.

Law enforcement officers can look through your car windows with a flashlight even if you did not permit them. If they can see something suspicious, they can legally investigate further, which could include a vehicle search.

Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Riverside Today

If you’ve been pulled over, you are probably very concerned about the charges you are facing. A Riverside, CA criminal defense attorney can help you understand your legal rights and resolve your case. Call us today at (951) 382-5559 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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