Flashing blue lights in your rear-view mirror sends most people's pulse racing. But once you come to a complete stop, the heart palpitations really begin. Your perception of the imbalance of power during the exchange between you and the officer can cause your heightened anxiety. But you have more power than you think and can exhibit this by knowing your rights. Here are a few suggestions on what to do next time the police stop you.

Remain Silent

If it is a routine traffic stop, the officer has the right to ask you for your driver's license, registration, and insurance information. While they may ask other questions, such as where you are coming from or where you are going, you have the right not to answer them. 

You also do not have to answer questions about your citizenship status. But if you are not a U.S. citizen and the police request to see your papers, you must provide them if they are available. 

You have the right to remain silent. Do not just sit there and refuse to answer to exercise this right. Tell the officer out loud that you choose to stay silent. Just be aware some officers will be offended by your actions. They may attempt to bully you into answering and may go as far as arresting you. 

To Not Consent To A Search

If the officer asks you to step outside your vehicle, do so. But you do not have to consent to a search of your person or your vehicle. The officer may lightly pat you down, searching for a weapon under the stop-and-frisk law. 

Make sure you verbally state your refusal of consent. While your refusal before or during the search may not prevent the officers from searching, it may invalidate the search later. 

To An Attorney

If the officer arrests you for any offense, you have a right to a criminal defense lawyer. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you have the right to request legal counsel be appointed.

Some officers may feel your request for counsel reflects your guilt, but that is not always the case. You are simply exercising your rights as outlined in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

Once you request an attorney who practices criminal defense law, remain silent until they arrive and you speak to them. Your attorney will advise you on how to proceed in your specific situation.