According to both federal and Maryland state law, everyone is afforded specific rights when pulled over by a law enforcement officer. Additionally, there are best practices to consider if you have been pulled over to ensure cooperation and help mitigate the situation. Here, traffic law attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein details best practices when you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer.
Pull Over Swiftly and Safely
If a law enforcement officer has indicated that they wish to stop your vehicle, pull your vehicle to the righthand side of the road in a safe, but quick, manner. Be sure to use your turn signals if you need to get into a different lane, and brake gently so that the officer behind you has enough time to stop their vehicle. Make sure the place you stop provides the officer enough space to safely approach your vehicle as well.
Create a Calm and Non-Threatening Environment
Once you have pulled your vehicle over in a safe location, turn the vehicle’s engine off. If it is dark outside, turn on your interior light so that the officer can see you and any other passengers in the vehicle. Roll the driver’s side window of the vehicle completely down to facilitate easy communication with the officer.
Place both hands on the wheel so that the officer can always see them, and do not reach for your license or registration until the officer requests you to do so. Also, do not leave your vehicle unless an officer requests that you exit. If the officer makes this request, slowly exit and remain near the vehicle, keeping your hands in full view of the officer.
Answer questions from the law enforcement officer calmly and politely. Those who wish to remain silent should politely and calmly state this decision to the officer. Even if you believe your rights have been violated, or disagree with a ticket or citation issued, these disagreements should not be expressed until you have spoken to an attorney—such as Douglas C. Lauenstein—or appear in court.
Remember Your Federal and State Rights
Every individual who is pulled over by a law enforcement official has rights that must be provided to them. Citizens and non-citizens always have the right to remain silent when interacting with a law enforcement officer and do not have to consent to a search of their person or vehicle. If you do not consent to a search, the police officer may search your person or vehicle without your consent. You should not resist or interfere with the search. Whether or not the officer had proper grounds to conduct a search without your consent will be decided at a later date in court.
Maryland is an “all-parties-consent” state, which refers to laws that define the recording of conversations. These laws contain a privacy provision, meaning that an individual does not need to consent to the recording of a conversation if the conversation is held in an area with no reasonable expectation of privacy. State and federal courts throughout the United States have agreed that conversations held in public areas—such as the side of a public road—can be recorded without the consent of all parties involved. This means that drivers who have been pulled over by law enforcement officials have the right to record the conversation conducted between themselves and the law enforcement official; however, this course of action is not always advisable and should always be pursued in a respectful manner.
Contact an Attorney if You Have Been Arrested or Issued a Citation or Ticket
One of the most important rights every individual possesses is the right to legal counsel. If you have been arrested, issued a ticker or citation or believe that your rights have been violated, it is critical to speak to an attorney about your options. Douglas C. Lauenstein is experienced handling traffic violations and represents his clients vigorously within and outside of the courtroom. Contact Douglas C. Lauenstein today to schedule a consultation.