Traffic stops can be a highly stressful and nerve-wracking experience. The flashing blue lights and the jolting sound of the siren can catch anyone off-guard. If you know your rights as a driver in Georgia, you may be able to mitigate the situation and protect yourself from unnecessary mistakes.
Be polite and stay calm
When an officer gets your attention and signals you to pull over, slow down immediately and activate your turn signal until you can safely make a full stop. Lower your window and let the officer know if you have a firearm in the vehicle. The officer may tell you the reason behind the traffic stop or they might ask you questions. Stay calm and speak to the officer politely to avoid antagonizing the officer. Refrain from complaining or behaving impatiently. A traffic stop can quickly escalate out of control, and officers may not always follow protocol.
Keep your hands where the officer can see them
Put your hands on the wheel or where the officer can see them. Have your license, registration and proof of insurance nearby and be ready to present them to the officer upon their demand. It would help if you opened the lights to keep your hands visible when you reach for the documents. Avoid making sudden movements that the officer may misconstrue.
Provide only the necessary information – nothing more
If you talk, the police can use what you say against you, and in the United States, you have the right to remain silent. You can tell the officer you want to exercise that right. However, you may also answer the officer’s questions but avoid voluntarily handing out more information than they ask for. Keep your responses brief and straight to the point. Ask your passengers to remain silent as well.
Refuse a search
You have a right against an illegal search and seizure. An officer cannot search your vehicle without your consent unless they have probable cause to justify the search. Inform the officer that you do not consent to the search. You may also ask them to get a warrant.
It can take very little for an officer to initiate a traffic stop. An officer could pull your car over if you violated any traffic rules and regulations, even if it was only a minor infraction. They may also conduct a traffic stop if they suspect you have been under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. However, if they had no reason to pull you over, then that is an illegal seizure. You should know your rights so the officer cannot use their authority to take advantage of you. Although, if the traffic stop leads to an arrest, do not resist. You can fight the charges on a more even battlefield.