28 May What To Do When You Are Pulled Over By The Police In Florida
Nobody likes to have their day disrupted by a police check especially when driving. And it is normal to have feelings of anxiety, confusion, and even anger when stopped by the police.
However, police checks are necessary to maintain order in society, and your response to the situation can heavily impact the final outcome of such encounters. You need to know how to speak to the officer, and how to answer and behave in a manner that poses the least possible threat.
Whether the traffic check will end in a simple warning or, at worst, an arrest depends on a number of factors. But first, it is important to know the reason you might have been pulled over in the first place.
Why am I Being Pulled Over by the Police in Florida?
The police can pull a vehicle over for various reasons. Many times, it is because of one of the following reasons:
- Over-speeding: This is the most common reason why police officers pull drivers over on the road. Police officers in Florida consider it a priority to stop speeding drivers. So no matter how much of a hurry you are in, be careful to stay within the speed limits. Doing this will not only protect lives and property but will also prevent a run-in with the police.
- Tailgating: This is another risky driving practice that often grabs the attention of police officers. In good weather when visibility is high, use the “three-second rule” as the standard. This means you choose a fixed point along the road and ensure that at least three seconds pass between the time the vehicle in front of you passes it and when you do. Provide for even longer following distances when visibility is low. For instance, when it’s raining, snowing, foggy, and at night.
- Faulty Equipment: Certain faults in a vehicle can draw the attention of an officer. This could include broken windshields, overly tinted windows, faulty lights, etc. Such vehicles are most likely to be pulled over and the drivers ticketed.
- Use of Cell Phone: Another reason the police may pull a driver over is if they were using their cell phones while driving. A police officer may assume this if the driver was swerving erratically or driving hazardously. No matter the region, texting while driving usually attracts a citation and a fine to follow.
- Improper Lane Changes: When a driver suddenly changes lanes by cutting in front of another vehicle, it shortens the reaction time of the other driver. This can be dangerous and often leads to accidents. As such, this kind of careless driving will attract the police officer’s attention and could lead to the police pulling a vehicle over.
What to do When Stopped by the Police
#1. Pull over
When you can see the blue flashing lights and hear police sirens, slow down and pull over. If it is an area with heavy traffic, you can drive a short distance, locate a safe place and park properly. If you must cross multiple lanes, engage your lights and move at restrained speed.
It is also advisable to park as far to the right as possible so that the officer won’t have to worry about the oncoming traffic.
Pulling over immediately is not an admission of guilt to a traffic violation. Instead, it shows your alertness and gives you the opportunity to know the reason you were pulled over.
#2. Comply with Instructions
Before the officer arrives at the window, turn off the car and roll the windows down. Turn on the inner lights if it is dark and make sure to place your hands on the steering wheel. These actions will show a willingness to cooperate and assuages any suspicions of the officer. Do not exit your vehicle unless asked to do so. This is for safety reasons.
On request, present the driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Florida law requires that these documents be always available when driving.
Move slowly and avoid making sudden movements. This is not the time to start rummaging through a bag or glove compartment. If you need to make any such searches, notify the officer.
If the area is dark, the officer will track movement with a flashlight. Any suspicious movement could be construed as dangerous and the officer is obligated to respond in kind.
While the officer checks the presented documents, keep both hands in visible sight on the steering wheel.
Drivers who refuse to obey a police officer’s instructions are at risk of violating Florida State Law 316.072 (3). The law makes it a second-degree misdemeanor to willfully refuse to comply with lawful orders given by a law enforcement officer.
A conviction under this offense could result in up to 60 days’ imprisonment. Therefore, if you are charged with the offense, your first call should be to a Polk County Criminal Defense Attorney.
#3. Maintain Orderly Conduct
It is important to be polite to the law enforcement agent. Being rude or hostile can lead to various issues.
Answer any questions asked succinctly, bearing in mind that everything said can be used against you in the court of law. It is therefore advisable not to say more than necessary. Allow the officer to do most of the talking and respond in the appropriate places.
Also, if the police officer issues you a citation, it is best to sign even if you do not agree with the contents.
Signing a citation is not an admission of guilt. It is simply an acknowledgment that you have received it.
You will still have the opportunity to contest the citation and dispute the fine in court on the chosen date. You may also choose to concede and pay the fine peacefully.
#4. Know Your Rights
Any driver in Florida has the right to remain silent, same as the passengers on board. There’s no mandatory requirement to answer questions on date or place of birth, citizenship status, or immigration.
Such answers will only be necessary when there is a suspicion of crime or traffic violation. In the absence of identification documents, silence is a legitimate choice. You cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions.
You also have the right to respectfully deny a request by the police officer to search your car. However, if there is probable cause, the officer can legitimately search the vehicle even without consent.
Passengers onboard can ask if they are free to leave. If the officer says yes, they can remain seated in silence or leave calmly. But even if the officer says no, the right to remain silent endures.
What Not To Do When Pulled Over By the Police in Florida
- Do not show physical displays of anger, this constitutes threatening behavior
- Do not make any sudden or suspicious movements
- Do not tell lies to the officer, this will just create further unnecessary complications
- Do not argue with the officer or antagonize him/her. The consequences may prove to be fatal
- Avoid excessive or unnecessary questions
Contact A Polk County Criminal Defense Attorney
It is important to know the traffic laws of your state and how it applies in specific situations. However, despite having this knowledge, misunderstandings can still occur between you and a police officer.
Unfortunately, such misunderstandings can escalate into tickets and even arrests. At this point, it is always best to consult an experienced Polk County Criminal Defense Attorney.
At Sara Jones Law, P.A., we stand up for our clients. We mount up the strongest possible defense in court so you do not pay heavy consequences for a simple misunderstanding. Nobody deserves to suffer for a crime they did not commit.
Allow us to take up the legal battle on your behalf and defend your rights. Contact us today.