Five Things to Remember if You’re Pulled Over by Police

Being pulled over by the police is always a stressful event, even if you don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong. You know, at the very least, that you’re likely going to have an intimidating conversation, may wind up with a ticket, and are very likely to be late to wherever you’re trying to go. However, if you keep these five things in mind, you can minimize the harm a police stop can do.

Try to stay calm.

Remaining calm at a police stop isn’t just a good idea from a mental health perspective. It will also help you to maintain perspective and stop from acting rashly. Moreover, the more nervous you act, the more it may incentivize a police officer to escalate the stop to a search or seizure, so the less jittery you can seem, the better your odds of walking away with minimal consequences.

Don’t feel obligated to answer police questions.

While the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination (the “right to remain silent”) doesn’t apply if you’re not in police custody, you’re still not legally obligated to answer a police officer’s questions. Thus, if you believe an answer to a police officer’s question is more likely to cause harm than good, you can simply say you don’t want to answer their question. At that point, the officer may need to choose between escalating or letting you go, but at the very least you’re not providing additional evidence that may be used against you.

You may not be able to stop a police search.

Under normal circumstances, the police cannot search a person’s property without a warrant backed by probable cause. However, under the so-called “automobile exception” to the 4th Amendment, a police officer can conduct a search of a motor vehicle without a warrant, so long as they have probable cause to believe the vehicle contains evidence of a crime. This means that stopping a search of your car may be nearly impossible, so don’t get too upset if the police decide to start rooting through your car at a traffic stop.

You can refuse a breathalyzer, at a price.

Technically speaking, you don’t need to submit to a breathalyzer test at a traffic stop if you don’t want to. However, by law, anyone who refuses a breathalyzer test at a traffic stop automatically forfeits their driver’s license. So, if you don’t want to take the breathalyzer, you can refuse, but you may not be able to legally drive again for at least a year.

You can ask to call a lawyer.

Just like in any other situation where you find yourself confronted by the police and at risk of arrest, you can call your lawyer to help you at a traffic stop, if you can get in contact with a lawyer in a reasonable time period. That said, the police aren’t obligated to wait around for your attorney to show up, nor do they have an obligation to wait while you search for a lawyer to call. Thus, if you can’t get your attorney on the line right away, the next place you’ll likely have a chance to talk to them is at the police station.

If you are placed under arrest, remember to exercise your right to an attorney and get legal representation as soon as possible. A Suffolk County criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Central Islip criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.

How Are Red-Light Cameras Legal?

Everyone has seen, or at least heard, of red-light cameras, which are an increasingly common part of traffic law enforcement. There’s even a decent chance that you’ve been caught by a red-light camera yourself and had to pay a fine as a result. But why are red-light cameras so common, and how are they legal in the first place? Continue reading “How Are Red-Light Cameras Legal?”

Independent Medical Exam Following a Motor Vehicle Accident

Following a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you receive treatment for your injuries.  But even though you are being treated by your chosen doctors, there is a chance that the insurance company will send you a letter scheduling you for an Independent Medical Exam, or IME, with the insurance company’s doctor.  Also referred to as “Defense Medical Exams,” or DMEs, these exams are the insurance company’s opportunity to review your injuries to determine if coverage is still medically necessary. Continue reading “Independent Medical Exam Following a Motor Vehicle Accident”

New York Implements Installation of Cameras on School Buses

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that will allow schools in New York State to install cameras on the stop arms of school buses.  The cameras are intended to automatically record anyone who passes a school bus illegally. Continue reading “New York Implements Installation of Cameras on School Buses”

Parking Lot Accidents

Long Island residents spend a lot of their time in parking lots.  Whether it is for work, shopping, the doctor’s office, or even for school, Long Island residents find themselves navigating a parking lot in a car or on foot.  Unfortunately, due to the crowded nature of parking lots, sometimes accidents occur, resulting in personal injuries. Continue reading “Parking Lot Accidents”

Your Rights When You’re Stopped for a DUI or DWI

It should go without saying that you should never, under any circumstances, drive while under the influence of an intoxicating substance, such as alcohol, marijuana or heroin. However, if you are pulled over by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), there are a few things you should keep in mind, so that you can best protect your rights.

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Long Island Distracted Driving Case Moved to Westchester

The Daily Voice reported that a case involving a motorist who struck a state trooper after allegedly exchanging text messages while driving has been moved from Suffolk County to Westchester, where the District Attorney’s office has been appointed as special prosecutor. (Citing a conflict, the Suffolk DA recused themselves from the case, according to the article.)
Continue reading “Long Island Distracted Driving Case Moved to Westchester”

More Than 80,000 Scofflaws May Avoid the “Boot” — And a Tow — by Seeking Amnesty

Newsday recently reported that 43,000 Suffolk County drivers who have not paid three or more red-light camera tickets and another 40,000 with outstanding tickets for moving or parking violations will have their vehicles booted and towed if they did not pay off their unpaid tickets by March 1. However, they can avoid this scenario if they take advantage of the county’s Amnesty Program.
Continue reading “More Than 80,000 Scofflaws May Avoid the “Boot” — And a Tow — by Seeking Amnesty”

Steep Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in New York

Hundreds of thousands of motorists use New York’s roadways each day. In New York, each vehicle on its roads must be covered by an auto insurance policy to properly adhere to the traffic and insurance laws within the state. However, in 2015, there was an estimated 6.1% of motorists within the state that continued to drive without proper auto insurance in place. This can result in harsh penalties.
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Suffolk County Committee Decides to Extend Red-Light Camera Program

On September 19, 2018, Newsday reported that the Suffolk County Legislature’s Waiver Committee unanimously voted in favor of extending the contract of the county’s red-light camera vendor, resulting in the red-light camera program being extended for at least another year.

Conduent Inc., a technology company based in Florham Park, New Jersey, received an extension on its contract with the county which will run the end of 2019. Republican legislators were upset that the contract was renewed without seeking competitive bids or requests for proposal, but they are more upset that the red-light camera program is more about collecting revenues than making the roads safer for drivers.
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