What if law enforcement officers stop me in my car?


What if law enforcement officers stop me in my car?


What are things that I can do to increase the odds of having a positive Law Enforcement Encounter?

Keep your hands where the police can see them. You must show your drivers license, registration and proof of insurance if you are asked for these documents. Officers can also ask you to step outside of the car, and they may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them and compare their answers, but no one has to answer any questions.


A police officer may frisk a suspect only if there is reasonable suspicion to believe the suspect is armed and dangerous. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that there is no general “officer safety” exception to the search warrant requirement. Officers may lawfully stop a person upon reasonable suspicion to believe the person is involved in criminal activity. However once the stopped, an officer may only conduct a frisk or patdown when the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe the particular person to be searched is armed and dangerous.


The police cannot search your car unless you give them your consent, which you do not have to give. It is advised that you simply state, I have been advised by my attorney to not consent to a search of my vehicle or person.


A Police Officer can search your car only if they have “probable cause” to believe (i.e., knowledge of facts sufficient to support a reasonable belief) that criminal activity is likely taking place, that you have been involved in a crime, or that you have evidence of a crime in your car. If you do not want your car searched, clearly state that you do not consent. The officer cannot use your refusal to give consent as a basis for doing a search.


Traffic Stops

Often times the first concern for a Police Officer is his or her own safety, and it is imperative to understand this. The requirements of the driver correspond with the officers concerns and a driver should expect that the officer’s level of comfort will be dependent upon a reasonable belief that the driver has stopped the vehicle and is at least providing a valid license, proof of insurance and registration to the vehicle.


When being pulled over pull over to a safe place, turn off your ignition, stay in the car and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Officers are tuned into furtive gestures from within the vehicle and will conduct a search of your vehicle if in fact observations of hand movements in the vehicle are observed.


At night turn on the interior light. Keep your license, registration and proof of insurance close by like in your “sunvisor” to have these documents immediately available. Drivers should be prepared for being able to easily access these documents. Roll your window down enough so that you can have a conversation with the officer, but not far enough that he or she can stick their head into the vehicle. If there is nothing within the vehicle that will provide an indication or smell of contraband then roll window down more, it will show that you have nothing to hide.


Be courteous, stay calm, smile and don’t complain. Show respect and say things like “sir and no sir.” Never bad-mouth a police officer, stay in control of your words, body language and your emotions. Remember that your comments and or statements can and will be used against you if the incident escalates. Keep your hands where the police officer can see them. Never touch a police officer and never run away!


Charged with a crime?  Contact Komorn Law Immediately to protect your rights  800-656-3557.


Passengers in your vehicle?

Passengers traveling in your vehicle need to know their rights as well. They have the same right NOT to talk to a police officer and the right to refuse a search “unless it’s a ‘pat down’ for weapons.” Police officer sometimes will separate the passengers and ask questions to see if their stories match. All passengers should always give the same answer and say, “I’m going to remain silent and am I free to go?”


How long can you be detained for a traffic stop?

How long can a police officer keep you pulled over “detained” during a traffic stop? The Supreme Court has made mention that up to 45 minutes is a reasonable amount of time for a police officer to conduct his investigation and allow you to go free on your way.


When are you free to go?

During a traffic stop a good time to ask “am I free to go” is after the police officer has given you a “warning or a ticket” and you have signed it. Once you have signed the ticket the traffic stop is legally over says the U.S. Supreme Court. There’s no law that requires you to stay and talk to the police officer or answer any questions. After you have signed the ticket and have your license you may roll up your window, start your car and leave. If you’re outside the car ask the police officer, “AM I FREE TO GO?” If he says yes then get in your car and leave.


Don’t Forget


Be aware of Police Questions:


If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime you should have an attorney representing your interests.  Contact Komorn Law Immediately to protect your rights  800-656-3557.


Related Links


About Komorn Law

Komorn Law has represented numerous clients through the legal chaos of starting up a business in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Industry as well as consulting and legal representation for Medical Maruhuana Patients and Caregivers.

If you or someone you know has been arrested as a result of Medical Marijuana, DUI, Drugs, Forfeiture, Criminal Enterprise or any other criminal charges please contact our office and ensure you’re defended by an experienced lawyer.

Attorney Michael Komorn is recognized as an expert on the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. He is the President of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association (MMMA), a nonprofit patient advocacy group which advocates for the rights of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers.

Contact us for a free no-obligation case evaluation  800-656-3557.

Follow Komorn Law


This page is for informational purposes only. Laws, regulations and the world changes routinely therefore we insist you consult an attorney for the most current legal information.