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What to do when Stopped by Police in your Vehicle

Being stopped by a police officer can be a stressful and frightening experience. The following is a list of suggestions on how to handle when you are stopped for questioning by police while driving in order to preserve both your safety and your constitutional rights.

  • Stop your vehicle as quickly as possible in a safe place. If you intend to pull onto a side street or a parking lot, slow down and turn on your hazard lights so the officer knows your intention is to pull over and not to flee.
  • Once stopped, turn on your internal light, roll down your window, and place your hands on the wheel. Do not search for your license or registration until the officer requests them. Traffic stops can be very dangerous for police officers; staying still and visible in the car indicates to the officer that you are not a danger.
  • When requested, show the officer your driver's license, proof of insurance, and registration.
  • If the officer wants to search your vehicle, you can refuse consent. However, the officer does not need consent to search your vehicle if he has probable cause to believe evidence of a crime is in your vehicle.
  • Remain silent. Tell the officer out loud that you are exercising your right to remain silent, and then refrain from speaking.
  • If you are arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately. You have a right to consult with a lawyer. If you cannot afford one, the government must provide one to you. Do not speak with police until you have spoken with your lawyer. Having the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side increases your probability of a successful outcome to your case.

Additionally, under Michigan's "implied consent" law, you can receive a 0-point civil infraction--so long as you are not a minor--if you refuse to take a PBT. If you are arrested based upon probable cause, you are required to take any test requested by the police to determine your blood alcohol level. If you refuse, your license could be suspended for 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years depending on if this is your first, second, or third offense. However, while the results of your PBT are typically inadmissible against you in court, the results of a breathalyzer or similar test are typically admissible.

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