WHAT DO I DO WHEN I SEE POLICE LIGHTS BEHIND ME?
First, breathe. In nearly all traffic interactions with the police, the result is a warning or ticket, even if someone is, arguably, guilty of much more serious offenses. But, to ensure the best outcome, there are some best practices when one sees those cop lights.
FIND THE BEST WAY TO EXIT THE ROADWAY
The first interaction with the police officer, and one’s first time to make a good impression, is how one exits the roadway. Do it with one’s own safety in mind, but also the safety of the police officer. Well-lit areas with plenty of room are ideal, though, not always possible.
SHOW CARE FOR THE POLICE OFFICER
The next impression the police officer has is how one interacts inside the car as the officer approaches. After one pulls over, roll down the windows. Do not reach for anything, and everyone should keep their hands visible. Remember, the police officer has no idea what they are walking into, and they, generally, assume everyone is a threat until proven otherwise. Prove them otherwise.
THE INTERACTION SHOULD BE POLITE, BUT NOT EFFUSIVE
Once the police officer is at the window, they will ask for identification (driver’s license), car insurance and vehicle registration. The driver should identify it, and then, hand over those items to the police officer. Keep in mind that this is the only interaction one needs to have with the police officers, but there are some tips to keep in mind.
DO NOT LIE, BUT ALSO DO NOT INCRIMINATE ONESELF
While it may seem like a good idea to say that one is just coming back from church, volunteering or some other good act to ingratiate oneself with the officer, do not lie to the police officer. Lying can be used against one in any subsequent court proceeding, and it can also be the basis of a crime itself, especially when talking to a federal official. As such, if one chooses to interact with the police officer and answer questions, which they have no duty to do as we all have the right to remain silent, then use best judgement. If one just got out of the bar, this may not be the best time to speak with the police. If one really did just come from church, then silence could make one look guilty of something.
WHAT ABOUT BLOOD ALCOHOL TEST REQUESTS?
Alabama is an implied consent state, which mean that, simply by driving on public roads, drivers consent to taking BAC tests. If one outright refuses to take any test, then the driver’s license will be suspended for at least 90 days. If that is not doable, then another option is to request a blood test, or to ask to speak with an attorney.