Each day in the United States, police conduct over 50,000 traffic stops. This adds up to more than 20 million vehicles being pulled over each year. In general, civilians are safe during traffic stops, however, traffic stops can quickly turn from an uneventful and insignificant annoyance to a more serious threat on your life.
In the past five years, police have killed over 400 people while conducting traffic stops, who were not suspected of a serious crime or in possession of a weapon. In 2020, the majority of traffic stop fatalities resulted from stops where police were investigating non-violent crimes.
The issue for police is one of uncertainty. When a police officer approaches a suspect’s vehicle, they are unsure of the situation they are walking into, often leading to increased tension and anxiousness amongst officers. Police are trained to observe and react to sudden movements and shoot when the suspect is in possession of a gun.
In the same vein, traffic stops represent a stressful event for motorists as well. Drivers stopped by police may be stressed or anxious, particularly if they are guilty of a crime. Unfortunately, when stressed out drivers are paired with uncertain police officers, tensions can quickly rise, leading to a potentially dangerous dynamic.
What can you do to ensure a safe traffic stop?
While the ideal solution would be for government and police agencies to enact policy that leads to safer traffic stops, such as the implementation of machine-based-technologies to monitor minor traffic violations. In the meantime, civilians can take steps to increase the chances of a safe and uneventful traffic stop.
First, drivers should slowly pull over to a safe location, keeping their hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches. Do not exit the car. Second, drivers should follow the requests of the officer. If the driver suspects their rights may be infringed by the officer’s request, the driver will have the opportunity to present their side in court. Third, avoid arguing with the officer regarding the legitimacy of the ticket, arguments should instead be made in a court of law.
Making Arguments in Court
If you believe that you were unlawfully pulled over, or that the police officer conducted themselves in an unreasonable manner during the traffic stop, and the stop resulted in a criminal charge, contact Miami criminal defense attorney Ralph Behr at 800-761-3446 for a free consultation.