Do I Need to Get Out of My Car at a Pennsylvania Traffic Stop?

I do not know anyone who does not feel a little apprehension when they see blue lights flashing behind them while driving. Being pulled over by an officer does not need to be a stressful event; however, it is often a bit intimidating. Knowing what to do when you are pulled over can make the situation less stressful for you and the officer.

If you feel you have not done anything wrong, a traffic stop is not the time to argue. Just because the officer issues a traffic ticket does not mean that you are guilty of the charge. Being polite and respectful at the traffic stop and then calling our office to fight the charge is your best option. However, what happens if the police officer requests that you exit the vehicle?

How to Handle a Traffic Stop in Pennsylvania?

Pull over as soon as safely possible when a police officer signals for you to pull over. Place both hands on the steering wheel and do not make any sudden movements. At night, turning on the light inside your car can help the officer determine that you are not an immediate threat. Until the officer requests that you move, keep your hands on the steering wheel and have passengers place hands on the dash or headrest in front of them.

When the officer asks for your name, registration, and proof of insurance, you need to provide this information. Move slowly and do not put your hands into any enclosed area without asking the officer first. However, if the officer asks if you know why you were stopped or if you have been drinking, you are not required to answer his questions. You should be polite and respectful when stating you do not know or you do not want to answer the question.

If the officer requests that you exit the vehicle, you must do so. In Pennsylvania v. Mimms (1977) and Maryland v. Wilson (1997), the U.S. Supreme Court held that an officer could require the driver and any passengers to exit the vehicle during a traffic stop. Do NOT exit the vehicle until asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. Exiting the vehicle before you are told to do so can be interpreted as a threat and the situation can escalate. An officer must have reasonable cause to pull you over for a traffic offense; however, this is not the time to argue with the officer. Leave this to your criminal defense attorney.

The officer may pat you down and he may search your vehicle. You do not have to consent to this search. You can refuse the search, but the officer may still conduct the search. Your best choice is to remain silent except for providing the basic information. Again, you should be polite and respectful when stating you would rather have your attorney present before answering questions.

Call an Erie Criminal Defense Attorney for Help

If you are arrested, you need an experienced Erie criminal defense lawyer on your side to make sure your legal rights have not been violated. Contact The Travis Law Firm toll-free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys.