Virginia Traffic Stops 

Virginia traffic stops are a common occurrence. Despite their commonness, traffic stops are still an anxiety-inducing experience for many. Especially, for people who are not used to dealing with law enforcement, or people who have never committed a traffic offense before. While this anxiety is normal, evading or attempting to elude the police is never a good idea. Instead, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with traffic stop procedure and your rights as a driver. If you have received a ticket for a traffic infraction or, you want to know more about traffic stops, seek the legal guidance of a qualified traffic lawyer today.

Getting Stopped By the Police

A law enforcement officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a traffic infraction occurred or was committed by the driver or there is a violation of public law. The trigger for the stop is a reasonable suspicion that the person did something wrong. The officer turns on the lights; and may use the siren to signal to the driver to pull over to the side of the road. The person should try to find a reasonable stop as soon as possible to avoid the appearance of eluding the officer.

The general standard is that the driver should stop as soon as it is practical to do so. They should pull over as soon as possible. When the road has a shoulder, the person should try to move to the right and pull over on the shoulder. If the road is narrow, they can continue to drive briefly until they find a safe place to pull over onto the shoulder or in a parking lot. They should also make sure that the area is well lit for their safety and for the officer’s safety. The officer may try to find a spot with a lamp post or some light in the parking lot. If there is no light at all or no safe area to stop on the road, the driver should find the next parking area or complex to pull over and wait for the officer.

Pulling Over Safely

A driver can let the officer know they are looking for a safe place to pull over by slowing down, and turning on their blinker or flashers. That signals to the officer that the driver is aware the officer signaled them to pull over and they are trying to find a safe spot to do so. Typically, turning on the emergency lights or the blinker signals to the officer that the driver got the message and is proceeding to find a safe spot to pull over.

If it is dark, the person should pull over in a well-lit area. They should stay in the vehicle. The officer may take a few minutes and might run the license plates. When the officer approaches the vehicle, the person should put their window down and make sure their hands are visible to the officer. One of the concerns for a law enforcement officer is for their own safety; they want to be sure that the person is not trying to hide anything or reach for a gun. The person should have their hands visible on the steering wheel or in their lap where the officer can see them.

Traffic Stop Procedure

Following a driver pulling over, the officer will often ask the driver if they know why they were stopped or why they were driving so fast. They ask for the person’s driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration. An officer is entitled to ask for the identification and information. However, individuals are not required to an answer incriminating questions during Virginia traffic stops. If the questions are, “Why were you speeding too fast?” or “Do you know what you did?” or things of that nature, the person should refrain from answering and can politely decline to answer.

The officer will then take the driver’s license and registration, returns to the police car, verifies the person’s identity, and checks to see if there are outstanding warrants against the person. If necessary, the officer issues a summons to the driver and gives the driver information about it. The driver should read the summons and ask for clarification if there is something about the summons they do not understand. They sign and return the summons to the officer who may tell the driver they are free to go. While the officer works in the cruiser, the person should stay still and not attempt to drive away.

Value of a Traffic Lawyer

A Virginia traffic lawyer can be instrumental in your case. Virginia traffic stops can be stressful, especially if you are unsure of what you have done wrong. While most people’s first instinct might be to flee, it is vital to your safety, and to your record, that you pull over. If you receive a ticket, an attorney can help you dispute that ticket. If you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, your lawyer can help you build a solid defense. No matter the traffic issue, a capable traffic lawyer can advocate for you.