Red and blue lights flashing in your rearview is never something you want to see as a driver. In the United States, being stopped by an officer of the law has sometimes led to horrible displays of police aggression and abuse of power.
When interacting with police in Louisiana, it’s crucial to know your rights.
Our Baton Rouge attorneys at Pierce & Shows have in-depth experience helping clients navigate these types of run-ins. In this blog, we discuss what to do if you get pulled over by the police.
What to do when you get pulled over
Police may stop you for numerous reasons, but you might not know why you are being pulled over when it happens. No matter what, you should, as soon as possible, pull over to a safe location on the side of the road.
Once pulled over, you should:
- Roll down your window slowly
- Have all documents ready (such as your license, proof of insurance, and registration)
- Do not do anything that the officer might see as a threat. (This includes exiting your vehicle or reaching for something while the officer is next to your vehicle without getting their go-ahead.)
The best practice is to remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and with your hands in view of the officer. It is also a good idea to shut off your car and put the keys on your dashboard or another place an officer can see them.
These are small actions but show that you are willing to listen and obey and have no intention of harming the officer or driving away.
Talking to the Police
When being pulled over, you will have to be prepared for the police officer’s questions. During a traffic stop in the state of Louisiana, law enforcement have the right to:
- Ask for your legal documentation (driver’s license, proof of insurance, vehicle registration)
- Search your car if the officer has probable cause (i.e., believes you could be hiding a weapon, drugs, or drug paraphernalia), has a valid search warrant, or if you have given consent
- Conduct a breathalyzer test if they are reasonably suspicious you have been driving under the influence of alcohol
- Ask you to step out of your vehicle (But remember: do not get out of your car unless asked)
A police officer does not have the right to:
- Refuse to show their name, ID, or badge number
- Search your vehicle without consent, a valid search warrant, reasonable suspicion, and/or probable cause
- Arrest you for refusing to consent to a search
Your Rights when getting pulled over
It is essential to know your rights when being pulled over by an officer.
During a traffic stop, you have the right to ask these questions and say or do these things:
- If a police officer in plain clothes stops you, you can ask for proper identification.
- You can ask for clarification on why you have been pulled over.
- You can ask the police officer to move to an area with better lighting or more populated.
- You can say, “I do not consent to this search,” if they decide to search your vehicle so it is known and can be used in your defense later if needed.
- If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and wait to answer any questions until you have legal representation.
Contact Pierce & Shows Today
If you were pulled over and things didn’t go they way they should, our Baton Rouge firm is here to help you make sure your rights are being protected. For more information, contact Pierce & Shows today.