If you listen to the news, then you’re likely to hear about situations in which someone was initially pulled over for a traffic infraction only to wind up facing more serious criminal charges or hurt in the end. Many of these issues stem from individuals not knowing how to interact with police. The State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (AG) recently drafted a set of guidelines known as the Safe Stop Pledge (SSP) that residents should follow when law enforcement makes a stop.
The SSP outlines how motorists should wait until a law enforcement officer arrives at their vehicle before attempting to reach for credentials such as registration, proof of insurance or license and that they should verbally announce their intentions before making any moves.
Another concern that the AG addressed in the SSP is how a motorist has no further obligation to answer any questions an officer may pose after supplying them with their required credentials. The AG’s office points out that you may ask the officer about the reason for their stop, for their name and badge number or for a supervisor to come, though. They also emphasize that all vehicle occupants must follow the police officer’s commands even if they choose not to speak.
Most individuals have phones with video recording capabilities that they’ve increasingly used to document what happens in different aspects of their lives in recent years. The AG’s office notes that most New Jersey law enforcement vehicles come equipped with onboard cameras. They note that most officers carry video recorders on their bodies as well. The AG’s office highlights how motorists or their passengers can lawfully use their cellphones to record a stop provided that they’re able to obey officer commands while they do so.
Most law enforcement officers have a valid reason for pulling over a motorist, issue a citation and both parties go on their way without incident. There’s a handful of other cases in which an officer takes advantage of a person’s vulnerabilities, though. This factor may result in a Somerset County motorist dealing with far more than a traffic infraction. A criminal defense attorney can help you devise a strategy to defend yourself against enhanced charges stemming from what started as a traffic stop here in New Jersey.