Nobody likes seeing flashing police sirens while they are driving on the highway. But if you are pulled over by a police officer, it is important to remain calm and understand your constitutional and legal rights. While you should always be respectful and truthful when dealing with the police, you are under no obligation to implicate yourself with respect to driving under the influence or any other criminal offense.
Do Not Escalate the Situation
Most police stops are for routine traffic violations. While getting a ticket is an inconvenience, keep in mind a police officer is merely doing his or her job. The absolute worst thing you can do is escalate the situation by aggravating the officer.
When a police car signals you to pull over, you should do quickly and without hesitation. You should stop your car’s engine and roll your window down all the way when the officer approaches. Avoid making any sudden movements—such as reaching for your back pocket or underneath the car seat—as the officer may interpret that as a threat (i.e., someone is reaching for a gun). In fact, it is generally a good idea to keep your hands on the steering wheel—and in plain view of the officer—unless instructed otherwise
Can an Officer Search My Car Without My Consent?
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all individuals against “unreasonable” searches by the police. This means that a police officer, in the course of a routine traffic stop, cannot simply search your car without your consent. However, if the officer has “probable cause” to suspect you have committed a crime, such a DWI or possession of illegal drugs, both you and your vehicle may be subject to a search.
Keep in mind there are exceptions to the probable cause requirement. If there are illegal drugs in your car and in “plain view” of the officer—say there is a bag of marijuana on the passenger seat next to you—your car may be searched without your consent or a warrant. Also, if you are arrested, say on suspicion of DWI, an officer may search your vehicle as part of the arrest process.
Do I Have to Speak to the Officer?
When stopped and approach by the police, let the officer speak first. Never volunteer any information. The Fifth Amendment guarantees your right against self-incrimination, also referred to as the “right to remain silent.” If the officer asks any questions, give brief, non-committal answers.
For example, if an officer asks you, “Do you know how fast you were going?”, you can answer “Yes,” but do not volunteer an actual number. Remember, your silence cannot be used against you in a court of law.
Get Help from a Texas DWI Lawyer
If a routine stop does result in any type of arrest, you should remain calm and immediately contact an experienced DWI attorney. The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates can assist you in many types of criminal matters. Contact our law offices today if you need immediate assistance.
We take on cases deriving from arrests in Clear Lake, Houston, Galveston, and League City.