Traffic Stop Tips in Texas

Woman pulled over in a traffic stop.

Q: Can a cop order a driver out of the car?

El Paso criminal defense attorneys recognize how stressful a traffic stop can be. 

We are living in particularly anxious and unsettled times. Between the lockdowns and quarantines and social distancing stresses of the coronavirus– and increasing protests and strained racial relations– the normal anxiety we might feel when seeing police lights flashing in our rearview mirror increases tenfold these days. This is especially true if you are pulled over for a suspected DWI violation in Texas

What to do when pulled over by the police

Stop, obviously—no good ever comes from attempting to outrun the police. In fact it can result in “added” charges.

It’s strongly advisable for the driver and all occupants not to make sudden movements as the officer approaches the vehicle. Drivers should place their hands on the steering wheel and have passengers keep their hands still and visible. Do not exit the vehicle unless ordered to do so by the police officer. Don’t reach for your license and registration in the glove compartment or a purse so your actions are not misinterpreted as reaching for a concealed weapon. Wait and tell the officer where those documents are located, ask if it’s okay to retrieve them, and then move slowly while doing so.

While state laws differ and the particulars of each individual encounter will determine whether the actions of civilians and police officers were proper at the time, it is generally in a driver’s best interest to air on the side of being cooperative when at a lawful traffic stop. If an officer conducting a lawful traffic stop orders a driver or passenger out of the car, they are required to obey the officer’s order. Failure to do so may result in criminal charges and, as we see too often in the news, physical altercations with tragic endings. 

One thing you can do when pulled over, begin keeping track of the time and events generally. Cops are not allowed to detain you forever or for no reason. A timeline later may be the most helpful thing you can provide your attorney. Also, there is never a reason to consent to a search. If they want to look in the car, they need a reason, don’t be the person who gives them carte blanche to look for whatever they are fishing for.

That said, cops just can’t pull over vehicles for no reason.  Except for traffic safety or DUI checkpoints (which operate under special rules and are not allowed in Texas), “police officers in the US must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop the driver of a motor vehicle”.

The implied consent rule in Texas means that any licensed driver is deemed to have agreed to submit to a breath or blood test for alcohol or drug levels when suspected of driving under the influence. Refusal to submit to such tests may result in automatic license suspension. It is important to contact a skilled DWI attorney as soon as possible so they can take action to protect your license and driving privileges and prepare for your trial. 

If you’ve been pulled over during a traffic stop and charged with a crime, the Benjamin Law Firm can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation

From our office in El Paso, we have a track record of success in providing Texans with aggressive criminal defense representation while treating all of our clients with dignity and respect regardless of the charges against them. 

Posted in: Traffic Violations