The flashing lights of a police car is something you most likely don't want to see in your rear view mirror. If you do get pulled over, Chattanooga Attorney Robin Flores said it's important to remain calm and remember you do have rights.
Under Tennessee law, police are allowed to pull you over as long as they have reasonable suspicion, like a broken tail light or speeding. When you see those blue lights behind you, Flores advises to pull over immediately in a safe spot so officers don't assume you're fleeing.
"Depending on the cop, I've seen repeatedly where they get excited and pull out their gun, 'You didn't stop immediately, you didn't stop immediately.'"
He said traffic stops can be a tense situation for both the driver and officer because traffic stops are one the most violent situations officers face. It's important drivers should not escalate the situation by being confrontational.
"Keep your hands on the steering wheel. I mean we shouldn't have to do this, but keep your hands on the steering wheel, have your window down and address the officers and try to show that, 'look, I want to cooperate with you,'" explained Flores.
The officer has the right to ask you for your license and registration, but you also have the right to ask why you are being stopped. Legally, you are allowed to record your traffic stop as well.
Police can also ask to search your car and you can say no, but if they have probable cause they can search it without your permission. When it comes to opening your car door, Flores says they can if they have cause to arrest you.
"Take a vehicle chase: you're chasing someone down, you pull them over, get out of the car. It should be a felony stop. You train differently on felony stops, you're trying to extract them out. So the answer is yes, under certain circumstances," he explained.
If you feel like your rights have been violated during a traffic stop, Flores said the first thing you should do is memorialize what happened to you by writing it down. He says you should also call an attorney immediately.