Seeing the flashing red and blue lights of a police car in your rearview mirror is never a pleasant experience for anyone—especially over the holidays. With the increased amount of traffic on St. Petersburg roads leading up to the Fourth of July, you can be sure that many police officers will be out and about. In addition to being on the lookout for speeders and other traffic law violators, these officers will also be on the lookout for drunk drivers.
If you are pulled over on the July 4 holiday, there are certain steps that you should always take. If you are ultimately arrested for a Florida DUI or other criminal offense, the St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys at Khonsari Law Group may be able to represent you throughout your criminal case.
Gather Your Personal Information and be Respectful
As soon as you are pulled over, you should quickly gather your license, vehicle registration, and insurance card, and have them ready to show the officer. You should also keep both of your hands on the steering wheel. Finally, you should be careful about what you say—especially if you know that you have consumed alcohol or have something incriminating in your vehicle.
In many cases, traffic stop conversations between police officers and drivers are recorded. Although you should be respectful to the officer, you should never admit to having consumed alcohol, and you should be aware that anything you say or volunteer could give the officer the probable cause he or she needs to arrest you.
Know that You Do Not Have the Legal Right to Remain in Your Car
Contrary to popular belief, you are not permitted to stay in your vehicle if the officer orders you out. This is because officer safety outweighs the limited intrusion on the vehicle driver or passengers who are ordered to exit the vehicle.
Understand the Rules for Police Searching You or Your Vehicle
Although police officers should theoretically ask for your consent to search your car, there are some exceptions to that rule. For example, an officer may be able to search your vehicle if he or she has probable cause for that search. The officer can also seize anything incriminating that is in plain view in your vehicle.
Moreover, if the officer smells the odor of drugs in your vehicle, that alone may give him or her the necessary probable cause to search the rest of your vehicle. Finally, if a drug dog positively alerts to the presence of drugs in your car, that serves as the necessary probable cause for a total vehicle search.
Call a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If a police officer stops you while driving over the July 4 holiday, you should stay calm and be polite. This, alone, may help to lessen the severity of the interaction between yourself and the officer. If you believe an officer violated your civil rights during the stop, you should call the criminal defense lawyers at Khonsari Law Group.
To consult with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense attorney, please call us at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online.