What are Legal Reasons for Traffic Stops?

Traffic stops occur with a high degree of frequency. According to the Florida Bureau of Justice Statistics, traffic stops are the most common way that the public comes into contact with a police officer. A police officer may pull over a vehicle for any of a number of reasons including a traffic infraction, a vehicle violation, or for exhibiting behavior that indicates possible impaired driving. An officer might stop a vehicle based on a tip from a concerned citizen. Additionally, law enforcement can pull over a vehicle for failure to wear a seatbelt. If you feel that a traffic stop was unjustified or conducted improperly, an experienced Brevard County defense attorney may be able to provide assistance.

What You Should Know About Traffic Stops

Police officers and drivers must conduct themselves in a respectful manner during a traffic stop. As a driver, you should remain in your vehicle unless directed to exit by the police officer. Provide the officer with your driver’s license, insurance card, and registration documents. The police officer may detain you if he or she feels that the situation is unsafe or if he suspects a crime was committed. You must provide the officer with your name and other details. If you lie to the officer about your name, you could face charges under Florida Law, which states you must comply with the lawful orders of a police officer.

The officer must act in a professional manner. If you resist or defy orders, or try to run away, this could prompt a more severe police response. Generally, the police officer has the right to detain you for a short period of time. He may place you in handcuffs and pat you down to check for weapons. These actions are generally for the safety of the officer. If the officer finds contraband such as drugs or weapons, or if you have a warrant, you may face arrest. The officer must read you your rights which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney before questioning, among other things.

When can the Police Search My Vehicle?

The police have to have reasonable cause or a search warrant to legally search your car. It is helpful to understand what constitutes reasonable cause. The officer might smell marijuana when approaching your vehicle. This could be enough to result in a lawful police search. If the officer sees open liquor, drugs, or a weapon, these could indicate criminal offenses, and the officer may be able to search your vehicle as a result. Without probable cause, the police cannot search your vehicle unless you give consent. If you do not consent, the officer may use a police dog. They will allow the dog to sniff around your vehicle. If the dog alerts, the police have probable cause to believe that drugs are inside and are then able to conduct a search. Not all searches are conducted in a legal manner. If a search was done improperly, your attorney may be able to keep the evidence out of your case. In many instances, if the evidence cannot be used, any charges against you might be weak.

If you were arrested as the result of an illegal stop or search, there are options. Contact our legal team at Henderson Legal Group to discuss the details of your case today.


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