One of the most common occurrences in which citizens come into contact with the police is a traffic stop. Police officers will conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle when they believe that some type of traffic offense has occurred. Some of those offenses might be but are not limited to:
Equipment malfunctions (headlights or tail lights inoperative)
Following too Closely
Improper Turns or failure to signal
When stopped by the police, one might feel nervous, anxious or irritated. It is likely that a person will be concerned about whether or not they will be receiving a citation. Police officers however, are mostly concerned about their safety while performing their duties
When stopped by the police, the following actions are recommended:
Safely pull over to the right hand side of the roadway when signaled by the police to stop
Have your hands visible. It is best to have them placed on the steering wheel. If you have passengers, ask them have their hands visible as well
If it is during the hours of darkness, turn on your inside dome lights when you pull over
Avoid sudden movements such as ducking into your seat or rapidly reaching anywhere in the vehicle. This type of movement has the capability of alarming the officer
For safety, the officer will likely scan the inside of car before approaching and while speaking to you
If you are a passenger, sit quietly and don’t argue with the officer
Do not get out of your car unless you are asked by the officer to do so. If so, then comply with the officer’s request
Communicate your actions by telling the officer what you will be doing before you move.
You are required by law to provide the officer with your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
If you are issued a citation, you may be asked to sign the citation. Signing the citation is not an admission of guilt. It is a simple acknowledgment that you have received the citation and more so, a promise to take care of that citation by either paying the fine or setting a court date. You will normally be given between 5 -21 days in which to contact the court.
While you may be tempted to engage the officer in debate or argument as to the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop, remember that guilt or innocence can only be determined in court. Arguing with the officer about the citation in the side of the road is ineffective and unproductive.
Additionally, since Idaho’s standard for audio/video is considered “one person consent”, it is likely that the officer is recording his contact with you.
The reasons for a police officer to be knocking on your door can be many and varied. Officers are often tasked with the duty of making notifications to people. When citizens call to make a report, the officer will come to their residence for that purpose. Officers may want to interview you or another member of your household as a witness in a current investigation. Officers also go to the homes of citizens to serve arrest and/or search warrants. Police officers for the City of Ponderay will willingly provide their identification and state the purpose of their visit.
There might be times however, when officers may not announce their presence nor even knock on the door prior to entering someone’s residence. When officers are serving a warrant and they believe that the need to protect someone’s life or that evidence might be destroyed, this is considered to be an “exigent circumstance” and officers may make a fast and unannounced entry into a home.
If the officers have a warrant, you are entitled to see a copy of that warrant. However, if the warrant is an arrest warrant, it is not necessary for that warrant to be in the officer’s possession for them to make an arrest and you must comply with the warrant and give the officer’s admittance.
If You Are Stopped By The Police
Police may stop and detain you if they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed, are committing or are about to commit a crime.
You may ask the officer if you are under arrest. If you are, you have a right to know why.
Don’t run away from the police officer. Even if you think what is happening is unreasonable, that can lead to your arrest.
When the police reasonably believe that you have a weapon, they may perform a pat down of your clothing. Do not resist this process as it could lead to your arrest.
Photo Courtesy of Painton Pictures Photography ~ Used With Permission
Police officers will provide their name and “badge number” upon request. When in plain clothes, officers will identify themselves when taking police action. Officers will inform citizens about the reason they are being stopped and/or questioned.
Officers will only use the amount of force necessary to make an arrest. Excessive force is not tolerated by the Ponderay Police Department