When driving in Florida, being pulled over by law enforcement can be a fearful experience. During a traffic stop, there is no objective way to predict what might happen. This is true whether the driver was doing something illegal or not. Regardless of the circumstances, drivers should remember that they have rights.
Understanding one’s rights is fundamental during a traffic stop. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the driver is allowed to refuse to let the officer search the vehicle. People frequently make the mistake of thinking that it is better for them if they are cooperative. There might be items that were left in the vehicle inadvertently or by a passenger that could lead to an arrest. Consenting waives a person’s Fourth Amendment rights under the Constitution which shields them from unreasonable search and seizure.
Being aggressive with the officer is also unwise. Having an argument or a physically resisting arrest will exacerbate the problem significantly. Being honest when responding to the officer’s questions and complying is advisable. Still, volunteering too much information is not. A person who is subjected to a traffic stop has the right to remain silent during questioning, but the circumstances will dictate the preferred course of action. It is fine to refuse to answer, but it may also be helpful to respond with a question like, “What is this about, officer?”
If the situation begins to grow contentious, the driver can record what is happening if it does not interfere with the officer going about his or her duties. After complying with the officer’s instructions, then the driver should report it. Taking the officer’s name and badge number is also a useful step. The driver can dial 9-1-1. As recent events have shown, a traffic stop can quickly escalate and lead to an arrest and serious criminal charges. Knowing how to behave and the legal rights during a traffic stop is one part of the process. After an arrest, legal professionals experienced with criminal law may help with a defense.