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Avoiding jail resulting from traffic stops

Criminal Defense Attorney: DUI, felony, robbery, assault, expungement, domestic disturbance, traffic citation, weapon possession, burglary, drug possession.

One of the most common questions that defense attorneys are asked about is the best way to handle a traffic stop.

First, you should understand the various issues that arise in all traffic stops.

  • Typically a vehicle is pulled over for a routine minor traffic offense such as speeding, a broken taillight, swerving, or other issue with your vehicle’s license plates.

  • Often, during such a stop, the officer may speak with you or discover something that might lead to a major traffic offense, such as driving under the influence, reckless driving, or a suspended operator's license.

  • to limit your criminal liability in those cases you should understand the two competing interest happening simultaneously.

  1. You have the right to travel freely in your vehicle to wherever you intend to go (presuming that you’re legally licensed) AND

  2. A police officer has the duty and obligation to prevent and protect citizens from any criminal activity which may be a occurring.

As these two issues collide you need to be very careful about how you deal with the situation.


After the officer issues your ticket for your minor traffic offense such as busted taillight and he's giving you back your driver's license and registration you ask the officer one question you ask him first am I free to leave if the officer says yes start the car up drive away

if the officer says “no” it's a little tricky. If he says “no, you are not free to leave” you need to ask the officer why you are being detained. If the officer tells you why you're being detained and asks further questions or attempts to search the vehicle you need to say one thing:

“Officer, I'm not going to incriminate myself and I'd like to speak with my lawyer”

Even If you don’t have a lawyer at that point, you need to assert that right, and then engage an attorney as soon as possible.


Of course there are other ways one can handle such a stop, but these ways tend to lead to negative consequences, but you certainly have the right to pursue these methods:

  • You can take a militant stance, quote Supreme Court rulings such as: Terry vs. Ohio, and Miranda vs. Arizona

  • You can challenge the officer about what you believe he can and cannot do.

  • You can give the officer permission to search the vehicle for drugs or weapons…or whatever he might find.

Typically these assertions or permissions on your part will lead to further troubles, and are not advisable.

If you have legal issues, engage an experienced attorney, and leave the legal proceedings to a professional.

Contact The Copeland Law Firm

Schedule A Free Consultation At The Copeland Law Firm.

Our law firm provides legal representation to clients from the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia area, including Fairfax and Loudoun counties, and all surrounding jurisdictions and specializes in criminal defense and related matters. To arrange a free initial consultation, contact:

The Copeland Law Firm

Office: 703-904-4332

Cell: 703-655-1766



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