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What happens during a traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Apr 5, 2023 | Criminal defense

A traffic stop may occur if police have reasonable suspicion that a driver is drunk. An officer may have reasonable suspicion if they notice a driver violated a traffic law, such as speeding through a red light, swerving between lanes or making illegal left turns. Reasonable suspicion may also happen if an officer notices someone stumbled out of a bar and turned on their vehicle.

There are several things that will likely happen during a traffic stop. To ensure you’re prepared, expect the following:

A request for your driver’s license and registration

For starters, the police will ask you for your driver’s license and registration. It can benefit you to pull out these forms of verification before the police approach your car. The reason the police ask for your driver’s license and registration is to verify several things: 

  • The driver
  • The driver’s age
  • The driver’s record
  • Who the car is registered under

The police will review this information to be sure that you are who you say you are and various other things, for example, that you’re not driving a stolen vehicle.

Questions about where you’ve been and what you’re doing

The police may ask you questions before or after taking your driver’s license and registration. For instance, you may be asked where you’re driving from, where you’re driving to or if you’ve been drinking. Under the Fifth Amendment, you aren’t required to answer everything you’re asked. (However, it may be in your best interest to still be courteous while politely stating that you prefer to keep the conversation focused on the traffic stop.)

Sobriety tests if the officer thinks you’re impaired

You may be asked to do sobriety tests. The police may ask you to do a field sobriety test, which is a kind of physical evaluation. Or a chemical breath test, which tests the blood alcohol content in your body.

A traffic stop can quickly go bad for you if you don’t understand your legal rights. If you face a traffic violation, then you may need a defense to protect you from a criminal record.