philadelphia criminal defense lawyer

Know Your Rights: What Police Officers Can and Can’t Do During a Traffic Stop

We have all seen the news footage of police officers overstepping the mark during traffic stops. To avoid becoming part of the growing number who have been affected by problems with law enforcement agencies during traffic stops, you need to be aware of your rights. It is also important to know what a police officer can and cannot do during a traffic stop.

What to do When Being Pulled Over

If a police officer believes we have committed a traffic offense or have been in some form of unlawful activity, they have the right to pull you over. Once the flashing lights of the police vehicle in the rearview mirror, we need to find a safe place to stop the vehicle as quickly as possible. After we have found a safe spot to stop your car, you should follow a few steps to ease your interaction with an officer.

Turn off the engine and turn on the interior light. Wind down the driver’s window and place hands on the steering wheel. By completing these basic actions, the driver will protect themselves from being seen as a threat to the officer. Passengers who are not involved in the offense can ask if they are free to leave and walk away slowly if told they can depart the scene.

Providing Information

One of the problems we face as drivers is knowing what kind of information we need to give to a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop. In some states, a police officer has the right to ask for your name. Outside the delivery of this basic information, we do not need to provide any additional information. Each of us has the right to remain silent during a traffic stop but inform the officer of our decision to exercise this right to avoid any misunderstanding.


If You Are Arrested

An arrest will take place if the police officer believes they have enough evidence of a crime taking place to detain us. The arresting officer will read our rights, including the right to remain silent. At this point, informing the officer of the right to remain silent and that we wish to call a criminal lawyer in Philadelphia. The police are not permitted to listen in on a call between a defendant and their Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, but they are allowed to listen to a conversation with a private individual.

When a police officer pulls a driver over, they forfeit their right to privacy. We have every right to film a traffic stop to protect ourselves from being violated. Informing the officer we are filming the incident is the correct step to take. Police officers do not have the right to demand any images or video we record without obtaining a warrant.