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What happens at a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense

A traffic stop is a routine, temporary detention of individuals in a vehicle by police who have reasonable suspicion of a crime. Traffic stops occur when police suspect that the driver broke a law, they have routine checkpoints or roadblocks or if they suspect that the driver has committed a crime, such as a DUI.

The police stop and temporarily detain drivers to identify whether they have cause for arrest. This is what occurs at a routine traffic stop.

The approach

Officers approach vehicles slowly, quietly and cautiously. They search for the driver and passengers’ hands and pull up your trunk lid to make sure it is secure. They also glance inside the vehicle in search of weapons, open containers, drugs, etc.

Officers stop behind the driver’s door to gain some protection and discuss the reason they pulled over the vehicle before asking for the driver’s license, insurance and registration. If the officers see something or suspect a crime other than a traffic violation, they may ask to search the vehicle or for the driver to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test. If the driver declines, the officer may arrest him or her.

The investigation

The police direct the driver to remain in the vehicle while they. They watch for signs of aggression or fleeing as they search for warrants and previous violations before writing the citation or warning and speaking with dispatch. If the stop is minor, a conscientious officer will discuss the court date and options with drivers before allowing them to pull back into traffic. However, if warrants exist, they will arrest the driver.

To have the best experience, drivers should turn on their overhead lights, keep their hands on the wheel and let the officer know why they move their hands during these stops.