If anything is cause for getting a sudden case of the butterflies, it's seeing red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror as you drive along an Indiana roadway. You might have that split-second thought where you hope the officer behind you merely needs you to move over, so that he or she can pass and move on to pursue whomever, or whatever, it is that is begging his or her immediate attention.
Such fleeting thoughts precede the stark realization that you are the one the officer wants to talk to, so you find a spot to safely pull off the road. You can't predict what is going to happen after that. The officer might simply inform you that you have a tail light out and that you need to get it fixed as soon as possible. Then again, the officer might ask you to step out of your car. Either way, what you say or do can greatly influence the officer's behavior and the ultimate outcome of your situation.
Use class, not sass
Your goal is no doubt to keep the situation as low-key as possible in the hope that, whatever the problem is, it will all end with the officer bidding you a good night and letting you leave. Whether that is what happens, or you wind up in the back of a police car, the following tips may help to mitigate your circumstances:
- Be very mindful of your tone of voice and the words you choose when speaking to the police officer who has pulled you over in a traffic stop. Now is not the time for sarcasm or flippant remarks.
- By showing respect for the officer's position and by being as polite and cooperative as you can, you show that you are not looking for trouble.
- You can exercise your rights during a traffic stop. For instance, you may invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent without the presence of legal representation.
- To exercise your rights, you must first know your rights; if you are unsure what your rights are or how to protect them, you can request legal support at any time.
- Remember that an arrest does not always lead to conviction. Stay calm and explore all options for building a strong defense, if the officer takes you into custody.
If the officer intimidates you by telling you must do something you know, by law, you do not have to do (such as take a field sobriety test) you may verbally resist the demand; however, it is never a good idea to physically resist a police officer who is trying to put handcuffs on you or make an official arrest. Physically fighting an Indiana police officer will undoubtedly make your whole situation worse.
Protect your rights
If you believe someone has violated your rights, you can bring the matter to the court's attention. Such incidents often include issues such as unlawful searches or seizures, or failure to state Miranda laws at the proper time. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine whether or not you have grounds to challenge evidence or request a case dismissal.