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Police Stops

Posted By Criminal Law Standard || 23-Sep-2010

    It is important to keep in mind that police officers are human beings.  Among other things, they have families, friends, and a job to do.  During a traffic stop a police officers number one concern is to remain safe. 

    When the officer approaches a vehicle he has no idea what he will encounter.  For police officers traffic stops can be deadly.  As such, it is wise to behave in a manner that will make the police officers feel safe. 

    When the officer turns on his lights and siren, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.  Ideally, you should pull into a parking lot or some other location away from heavy traffic.  Keep your hands on the steering wheel with your fingers spread as the officer approaches the car.  Position your right hand at the top of the steering wheel and your left hand at about ten o'clock on the wheel.  This enables the officer to see your hands as he approaches, which will begin the process of making the officer feel safe.   

    Do not fumble around your car as the officer approaches.  It is highly likely the officer will ask you for your driver's license and proof of insurance, but if you are fumbling through your car as the officer approaches, the officer has no way to know whether you are looking for your proof of insurance or grabbing a gun.  Keep your hands on the wheel as explained above. 

    Store your license and proof of insurance in a place where you can easily locate them.  When asked for these documents you may want to tell the officer where they are located as you move to retrieve them.  This enables the officer to anticipate, and therefore not misinterpret, your movements. It can be difficult (especially if it is dark) to determine whether an item kept in a person's wallet is a mobile phone, gun, or wallet. 

    Be polite to the officer.  Let the officer ask the questions, do not talk over the officer, be respectful, do not question the officer's integrity or intelligence, and be honest.  For example, if you were going 70 mph in a 40 mph zone it will not help your cause to tell the officer you were driving below the speed limit.  Arguing with an officer at a traffic stop is rarely successful. 

    Do not volunteer information unless you feel it is important for the officer to know.  If your wife is about to give birth; that would be a good thing to tell the officer.  Absent an urgent situation or some other critical fact the officer should know, do not volunteer additional information. 

    Don't act like a big-shot.  This means do not act as though the officer is wasting your time, or tell the officer you have close ties to his boss.  In addition, be honest in your responses and maintain a serious demeanor.  A traffic stop is no time for jokes.  

    Tom D'Amore has practiced criminal law for more than 23 years and has obtained successful results throughout his career.  During Tom's 19-year tenure at the Dallas County District Attorney's Office he worked closely with literally hundreds of police officers. 

    In many instances, Tom knows the police officer who has arrested a client.  In such instances, it is much easier for Tom to contact the arresting officer and find out what the officer has to say about the circumstances related to the client's case.  This can be very helpful in evaluating a case and developing a case strategy with a client.    

    If you have been charged with a crime or need to retain a criminal attorney for some other reason, contact the D'Amore Law Firm to schedule a free case evaluation meeting with Tom D'Amore. 
Categories: Police Stops, Results, Strategy

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