Manassas DUI Stops
At a normal traffic stop in Prince William County, an individual is going to be approached by an officer who is in uniform and displaying a badge of authority. Individuals in traffic stops should be polite and cooperative with the police but should not volunteer any information nor should they answer any questions apart from simply identifying themselves, which they are required to do under Virginia law.
To learn more specifically what to expect when pulled over by law enforcement, call and schedule a consultation with a Manassas DUI lawyer today.
Being Pulled Over
If a person looks in their rearview mirror and sees a police vehicle with its emergency lights activated or hears a siren the individual should, as soon as it is practical and safe to do so, pull over to the right shoulder of the road.
In many cases, a person may find that a police vehicle is simply passing them and will not find themselves stopped. However, if a police vehicle follows you to the right shoulder or remains behind you, then the individual should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so either on an area that has a shoulder or on to a side street or parking lot.
If it is not safe to pull over, then the best practice is to continue to drive until you encounter a side street or a parking lot where it is safe to pull in.
Being Pulled Over At Night
Night time stops always have a potential to be more dangerous for the driver as well as the police officer. Stopping on a road that has no shoulder or is not well-lit in a lane of a travel can be very difficult and dangerous.
Again, the best thing to do during at nighttime stop is to try to find a well-lit area that is off the road in order to pull over. At the same time, acknowledge the officer’s presence by putting on a signal or hazard lights if it takes more than just a few seconds to find an appropriate place.
After Pulling Over
When pulled over during a daytime or nighttime stop, an individual should turn off their vehicle and place their hands on the steering wheel. The reason for this is that officers are trained to treat every traffic stop as potentially life-threatening because in many cases, there are in fact life-threatening.
By turning off your engine, placing your hands on your steering wheel and in the case of a nighttime stop, also turning on the lights inside your vehicle, you signal to the officer that you’re compliant. You show them your hands so that they see that you’re not threatening them. And you also make it easier for them to see inside the vehicle so that they feel at ease.
An officer who sees that someone is cooperating, and who is not made to feel threatened by an individual’s actions, is more likely to treat an individual favorably during a traffic stop. At the point when an officer asks for an individual to retrieve their license and registration, the best thing to do is to let them know where your license and registration are and tell them that you’re going to go ahead and reach for them. Again, this puts the officer at ease that you’re not reaching for a weapon.
Interacting With Law Enforcement
When the officer approaches your vehicle, if your window is not already down, they will ask you to roll down your window to speak to them. In most cases, they will ask you for your license and registration. You are required to provide these things under Virginia law. The best thing to do is to let the officer know that your license and registration are in some location in your car and then let them know you’re going to go and reach for them as you do that.
If an officers asks you if you think you were speeding, why you’re going so fast, where you’re going in such a hurry, why you think they pulled you over or any other question, you are not required to answer them. The best thing to do is to politely tell the officer that you understand that they’re just doing their job but that you are going to remain silent.
What To Expect After Giving The Officer Your License and Registration
Once you’ve given your license and registration to the officer, they will return to their vehicle and check each of those things against a computer database. The registration will be checked to make sure that it is current, that it belongs to the vehicle that the officer is seeing, and that the vehicle is not stolen.
The officer will then also look in the computer database to determine whether there are any outstanding warrants for you. As long as the officer confirms that neither of those things are a problem, they will return the license and the registration to you. If there’s a problem with the registration, you may be written a ticket for that, and of course if the officer discovers that there is an outstanding warrant for you, they will place you under arrest at that time.
Being Pulled Over By An Unmarked Vehicle
In Virginia, a police officer is not permitted under the law to execute a traffic stop unless they are in uniform and displaying a badge of authority. If you are pulled over by someone who is not in uniform and does not display a badge or who is out of uniform and showing a badge, you have every right to insist that you go no further until a uniformed marked vehicle arrives.
Under these circumstances, it is advisable to call 911 dispatch and confirm that the officer that you’re dealing with is in fact a law enforcement officer. In addition, if you’re pulled over by an unmarked vehicle and the officer is in fact in uniform and displays a badge of authority, you are in most cases also entitled under those circumstances to ask for a marked police vehicle to come to the scene before you have any further interactions with the police.
Again, this can be accomplished either through communicating this to the individual at your window or through calling 911 dispatch.
Biggest Mistakes to Avoid
There are several common mistakes that people make in traffic stops. One of them has to do with incriminating themselves. Even if it appears to be an innocent question like where you were going or coming from, it could end up hurting you in court. Any of the statements can be used against the individual later in court, and as a result it’s often a better idea for you to politely invoke your fifth amendment rights.
Another mistake that people make is taking actions that make the officer feel threatened. Anytime that a person makes a sudden movement like they’re reaching for something, anytime another person is beleaguer with an officer, it puts them on their guard and it makes it more likely that the officer is going to ask the person to get out of the vehicle and potentially place them in temporary detention while the stop is going on. This could lead to searches and potentially more serious charges in some circumstances.