Philadelphia Traffic Stops

The following information is what you should know if pulled over by law enforcement in Philadelphia. For more information on your rights or to discuss a criminal charge, call and schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia traffic lawyer today.

When it comes to a traffic stop, whether it be DUI or for just a motor vehicle violation, almost anything can happen. The reality of the situation is the Pennsylvania motor vehicle code has thousands of codes and violations and it is therefore very difficult for even police to know each and every one of them.

The reality is under all circumstances when a person is being pulled over by a police they should cooperate fully, and they should pull their vehicle over. They should answer only questions that don’t incriminate themselves and if they feel the questions could incriminate themselves they have the right not to answer any of them. They should always provide all information asked by officers and give the information provided by the officer, and understand that at all times the officer and/or his or her partner is watching your reactions to everything.

The reason officers are watching your reactions are because, if this were a stop for a potential DUI, they want to see how you’re reacting to certain things. If your actions are consistent with those of an average person, your actions will not be perceived as “out of the ordinary.” It’s always best to act like yourself and it’s normal to be a little nervous. The Supreme Court agrees with that so when pulled over you should try to act like yourself while also being respectable to police.

If you act in that fashion, then whether or not the officer chooses to give you a citation or submit you to a blood and/or a breathalyzer test, later on it will become apparent to a court that you not only cooperated but you acted in a way that’s consistent with a person who could operate a motor vehicle safely on the roads of Philadelphia and you could raise that defense.

“Your License, Registration, and Proof of Insurance, Please”

You should always be aware that when an officer asks for your license, registration, and insurance, the officer may already know whether the documents exist because the officer had the ability to run the vehicle’s plate when the officer originally pulled the car over. So the officer may be asking for these materials to verify who the driver is, first, and secondly to see how the person reacts. So for example:

  • Is the person fumbling around the car to find this information?
  • Is the person unable to locate their wallet?
  • Is the person having a hard time or sweating profusely, or otherwise showing signs of being nervous?
  • Is the person making certain furtive movements that may indicate the person is impaired?

That’s what the officer is really doing but once you turn over your paperwork to the officer, the officer will often leave their partner there if the partners exist, go back to the police car to run additional information especially if the car actually is not registered to the person who’s driving them. The officer will go back to their patrol car, tell you to keep your vehicle off, will sometimes even hold your keys and go back to their car and run your information.

After that the officer will see if there’re any warrants for the person, and any outstanding traffic violations. If none exist or some exist, the officer will certainly come back to the car, let the person know and the person could be arrested. If none exist and the officer believes the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the person can be removed from the car and subjected to field sobriety tests and then later will be requested to give a blood draw and/or a breathalyzer test at the police administration building or the nearest hospital.