The police are civil servants whose authority includes the use of lethal force if they deem it necessary, which makes it especially important to remember how the law constrains their actions. When you find yourself on the side of the road with those flashing lights behind you, remember
As the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey details, there are a few things you must provide. But much of your behavior is optional and officers may use anything you say against you.
Provide what you must
Authorities may stop you if they have a reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime or traffic offense. They have the authority to ask for your name as well as to see your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.
Officers may ask you to exit your vehicle if you are the driver and request a sobriety test if they suspect you of drunk driving. Refusing this test results in a similar loss of driving privileges as a DUI offense.
Outside of that, you have no obligation to provide more, including answering other questions. These questions may include how fast you think you were going, guessing at why the officer pulled you over or other questions where no answer makes things easier.
Remain calm under pressure
Speak carefully or not at all through your traffic stop. Sudden movements or outbursts may escalate the situation. There is no reason to give permission for officers to search your vehicle. When asked questions, you have the option of remaining silent without a lawyer.
Saying anything unnecessary may or may not exacerbate the situation. And once you have a traffic ticket, there is a risk it all might snowball into something worse. Keep calm, remember what you have to provide and ask for a lawyer if it comes to that.