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Naples Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Legal Advice > Traffic Stop – Your Rights

Traffic Stop – Your Rights

We’ve all been pulled over a time or two for a routine traffic stop. It’s nerve-wrecking and intimidating to see a police officer approaching your window, but it’s important to know what your rights as a driver are.

Officers are legally obligated to inform drivers the exact reason for the traffic stop. And, in the case of an arrest, the Supreme Court, in Miranda vs. Arizona, acknowledged the need to state explicitly the criminal charge and the rights that the alleged criminal has to defend themselves against in case of prosecution.

In the case of a traffic stop, an officer should always attempt to deescalate the situation. In no way should the officer make the driver feel threatened or unsafe. Sheriff’s deputies and local police officers have the authority to make lawful requests, and you as a law abiding citizen must acknowledge and abide by these requests. For example, to establish the identity of a person, the officer will probably request to see a valid form of identification. Or, in the case of suspected driving under the influence, the officer may demand a driver step out of a vehicle as a safety precaution. Officers have sworn to uphold the law and they are within their rights to make reasonable requests when they feel it is necessary to maintain order and safety in the situation.

A non-compliant driver may have violated Florida State Law. It can be considered a second-degree misdemeanor to “willfully refuse or comply with a lawful order or direction of any law enforcement officer, traffic crash investigation officer.” Arguing with an officer and delaying giving the officer a driver’s license or other form of identity are actions that can cause an escalation of the situation. These actions can quickly lead to an arrest. A conviction for this offense carries a sentence of imprisonment for up to 60 days under Florida State Law.

Everyone in Florida has a duty to keep the roads safe. Angry altercations, especially of the physical kind, are very unsafe. To avoid the escalation during a traffic stop into an argument and then arrest, here are some things that drivers can do to minimize these occurrences. While these suggestions sound obvious to most, it can be surprising the amount of routine traffic stops become arrests over poor communication skills or even lack of respect for the officer’s lawful authority. In the event of a traffic stop, make sure you:

  • Remain calm.
  • Speak in a respectful tone.
  • Comply with commands.
  • Take down the badge number of an unprofessional officer and report it afterwards.
  • Present identification without delay.
  • Do not question the officer unnecessarily.

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