Protecting Yourself During Traffic Stops
There has been a significant decline in the number of traffic stops being performed by police officers in Connecticut. In fact, there were 75,988 stops made in 2020, more than 81,000 less stops than in 2019. In 2020, traffic stops that resulted in tickets issued were just over 45,000. This is less than half the number of tickets issued in 2019. Both low morale amongst police officers and worries about COVID-19 have been cited as potential causes for the decline.
Lawmakers in the state have taken notice, as more accidents have taken place and the fatality rate has risen. Meetings have been held between state legislators and the Connecticut state police commissioner. This is likely to lead to additional traffic stop efforts being put in place. It is important to know your rights during a traffic stop. You may be able to fight a ticket if you’re issued one.
Staying Safe During a Traffic Stop
A traffic stop is usually a routine event. Law enforcement uses such stops to ensure that motorists are driving safely and lawfully. However, traffic stops can escalate depending on the motorist’s behavior. Here are some tips to remain safe during a traffic stop:
- Pull over and stop your vehicle in a safe spot as soon as you notice you are being pulled over
- Turn the vehicle off, turn on a light inside the vehicle, open the window partially, and place your hands on the steering wheel
- Provide the law enforcement officer with your license, insurance, and registration when they request it
- Keep your hands where they can be seen at all times and avoid sudden movements or reaching for things in your vehicle
Your Rights During Connecticut Traffic Stops
People who are pulled over by the police while operating a motor vehicle have rights they may not be aware of. In Connecticut, some of those rights include:
- The right to remain silent, which applies to both the driver and any passengers.
- Passengers can ask the leave the vehicle during a traffic stop.
- Completing and returning a racial profiling prohibition project card. Connecticut law requires police officers to provide them to everyone they pull over.
Can Police Officers Ask to Search My Vehicle?
Connecticut passed a police accountability law in October of 2020. This law changed how officers are allowed to approach certain issues, such as searching someone’s vehicle. Police can no longer ask for permission to search someone’s car during a routine traffic stop. Law enforcement officers need to have probable cause or unsolicited consent to search someone’s vehicle. The same is applicable to searching the driver themselves.
The Most Common Reasons People Get Pulled Over
Being pulled over can be a scary occurrence, especially if a driver doesn’t know what they did wrong. People get pulled over for a myriad of reasons and being pulled over could lead to a ticket. Some of the most common incidents that lead to traffic stops (and behaviors to avoid) include:
- Speeding: Driving over the speed limit is a quick way to get pulled over by a police officer. Many tickets are issued each day for this traffic violation.
- Texting while driving: Texting or using a phone while driving often results in traffic stops. The penalties can include fines of $200 or more. However, such a charge can be fought by using certain defense strategies, such as proving the driver was not on the phone or that it was being used in an emergency.
- Driving dangerously: A police officer will almost certainly pull someone over if they notice their driving is dangerous or breaking the law. Missing stop signs, swerving in and out of lanes, and driving erratically are signs that officers notice and could provide them with probable cause.
- Vehicular issues: Missing headlights, broken brake lights, cracks in the windshield, and hanging bumpers are examples of vehicular issues that could lead to being pulled over by law enforcement. These violations can make a vehicle unsafe for the road.
- No seatbelt: Seatbelt laws are taken very seriously by law enforcement. Tickets associated with being caught without wearing a seatbelt can include lofty fines.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket
Traffic tickets are not always warranted. Sometimes, law enforcement will issue a ticket that isn’t necessary. Anyone who receives such a ticket has legal options. They can plead not guilty through the mail, over the phone, or online. They can also use defensive strategies specific to their situation. For example, someone who receives a ticket for speeding may be able to argue that their speed was captured by a broken radar gun. An experienced traffic offenses lawyer can help you create a strong defense for your case and work towards avoiding penalties.
The amount of time a person has to argue against a traffic ticket will be outlined on their ticket. Failure to respond within that time frame could result in a suspended license, additional fees, and even an arrest.
Our Firm Can Help You
If you’ve received a traffic ticket and need legal assistance, contact Carlson & Dumeer, LLC today. We will stand by your side if you choose to plead not guilty. Our firm can help you craft a strong defense for your individual circumstances. We will make sure that everything to protect both your license and record has been done. Our criminal defense law firm is ready to defend you. Reach out at (877) 795-5594 or online today to schedule a consultation.