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What to do when stopped by law enforcement

| Mar 24, 2021 | Criminal Defense

The entertainment industry, through television and films, has a tendency to misrepresent what you should and should not do when stopped by law enforcement when driving your car or when otherwise out and about in a public setting. Criminal defense and a person’s rights tend to be overly dramatized on the big and small screen. The reality is that there are some very specific tactics you need to employ when stopped while driving in Michigan or when subjected to law enforcement questioning in a public setting.

Stopped by law enforcement for an alleged traffic violation

If pulled over by the police, turn off the engine, turn on the vehicle’s interior lights, roll your window down part way and place your hands on the steering wheel.

Most criminal defense attorneys will tell you that you do not have to consent to a search of your car. However, if the police have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, a warrantless search of your car can be performed.

You do not have to answer questions. You do have to show your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

If you are a passenger in a car, ask if you are free to leave. If an officer says yes, you have the choice to sit quietly or depart the scene.

Stopped by law enforcement for questioning in a public setting

If a law enforcement officer stops you in a public setting and wants to ask you questions, stay calm and do not argue or physically resist. Keep your hands well law enforcement can see them.

Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly walk away. If the officer says no, you have the right to remain silent if you desire.