If you drive a vehicle on a road in the United States, you are subject to being stopped by a police officer for a traffic or criminal violation. In order to be stopped for either a traffic violation, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you have committed a traffic violation. This is generally shown through the officer’s own observations of your driving. Additionally, a police officer can pull you over if he has either reasonable suspicion or probable cause that you have or are going to commit a crime.
Once a police officer has pulled you over for either a traffic violation or criminal activity, the police officer is legally allowed to do any of the following things:
- Ask to see a drivers license, registration, insurance, or other relevant information
- Take actions related to the reason for stopping the vehicle
- Act on suspicions that the police officer has developed during the stop
- Order the driver and passengers out of the vehicle
- Have a K9 unit sniff the vehicle (as long as the K9 unit is present and the sniff doesn’t extend the stop)
- Frisk the driver or passengers if the police officer has reasonable suspicion that there are weapons or drugs present
- Search the vehicle if there is probable cause that there is evidence of a crime or stolen goods present inside the vehicle
As it can be seen, a police officer is allowed to do a wide variety of things when it comes to a simple traffic stop. As such, it is important to know what they are not allowed to do. First, a simple traffic stop like speeding does not generally justify a search of the vehicle. Second, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a traffic violation or crime, a police officer cannot hold you on the side of the road. Finally, a police officer cannot detain you for any longer then necessary to achieve the reason that the police officer pulled you over for in the first place (example: writing a speeding ticket).
James Minick Talks About Traffic Stops
If you have been charged with a crime after the police have pulled you over in a car, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.