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Know Your Rights in a Traffic Stop


There’s nothing quite as unsettling as seeing those blue and red lights flashing in your rearview mirror.  At first you assume the patrol car is chasing someone else, but ultimately realize that no, you are the target.  As apprehension mounts, you ease to the shoulder and mentally prepare for what will hopefully be a minor inconvenience and nothing more.  This you should know:  you do have rightsNow, more than ever, it is important to understand and exercise them.

Do NOT Jeopardize your Safety 

There have been countless cases of seemingly minor traffic infractions resulting in outrageous outcomes.  Particularly for those of color, police interactions can be frightening and intimidating.  So be smart, and make decisions that amplify your willingness to cooperate and minimize any chance of an officer misinterpreting your behavior as somehow dangerous:

  • Turn off the ignition to show you have no intention of trying to speed away;
  • Turn on interior lighting to increase visibility;
  • Reduce radio volume to limit distractions;
  • Place hands on the wheel for clear visibility;
  • Instruct passengers to display their hands clearly;
  • Use a calm, respectful tone while responding to the officer’s request for I.D., vehicle registration, and proof of insurance;
  • Do not resist arrest if it comes to that.

Do Exercise your Rights

Outside of providing the basics listed above, you and any passengers with you have the right to remain silent, whether or not you are being arrested. The officer may question you about where you’ve been or where you’re going, and you need simply reply that you are exercising your right to remain silent.  Certainly, do not respond to questions related to citizenship!  If a request is made to search your vehicle, politely decline.  Without probable cause there is no reason to search you or your vehicle, although police are allowed to conduct a pat down to determine whether or not you’re carrying a weapon.

If a Traffic Stop Results in an Arrest 

In the event you are arrested, the officer is required to read you your rights.  Key among those rights is the right to an attorney, which you should immediately request.  Outside of this, say nothing. Sign nothing.  Do not argue, explain, or defend yourself.  If the officer continues to ask you questions, respond by stating that you are exercising your right to remain silent and that you will continue to do so until you have an attorney by your side.

The Phone Call 

You are entitled to a single phone call.  If the call is to your attorney, it is supposed to be confidential.  All other phone conversations may be—and likely are– monitored by the police. Do not say anything that you wouldn’t want them to hear or that might be used against you.  Cover the essentials and wait for your attorney to arrive.

Your Legal Defense 

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, it’s become much more than a speeding ticket or a broken taillight.  At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, our experienced Miami criminal attorneys provide a skilled and thorough defense.  Contact our office today to schedule a confidential consultation.



Miami Bankruptcy & Criminal Defense
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2121 SW 3rd Ave, Suite 600
Miami, Florida 33129

Telephone: 305.676.9545
Fax: 305.856.2715

The Law Office of Julia Kefalinos, Attorney, P.A. is located in Miami, FL and serves clients in and around Miami, Key Biscayne, North Miami Beach, Opa Locka, Hallandale, Hollywood and Broward County.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Required legal notice: We are a Debt Relief Agency as is defined in 18 USC Section 101 of the US Bankruptcy Code. We assist people who file for bankruptcy protection.

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