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Do I have to get out of my vehicle during a traffic stop?

If an officer asks for you or your passengers to get out of the vehicle during a DUI sobriety checkpoint or traffic stop, should you comply?

Whether or not you are in actual violation of traffic or some other law, you have rights that apply to DUI traffic stops.

The law requires motorists pulled over during traffic stops to comply with law enforcement. The moment that blue and red lights flash in your rear-view mirror, you should begin reviewing your rights and how they apply to this situation.

Avoid threatening behavior

To avoid being treated as an imminent threat and receiving additional or more severe criminal or traffic charges, you should not make any potentially threatening movements. Though officers are trained to recognize dangerous body language and gestures, it is best not to take chances.

Wait until officers ask or tell you to step out of the vehicle before reaching for any item. You should instruct your passengers to do the same.

How an officer can search

Keep in mind that law enforcement has the authority to gaze around the inside of your vehicle for signs of dangerous weapons, narcotics, drug paraphernalia, open alcohol containers and other criminal infractions. If they also have reason to suspect you or any of your passengers are a threat or if there are dangerous items in the vehicle, officers can rightfully search for and collect evidence.

Exceptions

You are not required to consent to a search of your trunk or any part of your vehicle. If the police search, voice your objection. Tell them you do not consent to the search and do not sign a consent to search form.

If they search anyway, do not fight with them. Simply make it verbally clear that you are not providing permission to search. Lawyers can sort it out in court later. If you refuse consent, you may have a fighting chance in court to contest a violation of your rights. If you consent, you probably do not have a chance.

Police officers receive professional training on how to handle various situations that may arise during traffic stops. However, knowing your rights can help you avoid complications.

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