BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Over the weekend, a video of a traffic stop in East Feliciana Parish was released.
The encounter turned violent after a woman allegedly hit a deputy with her car, which lead to her being shot.
After the death of Tyre Nichols, tensions surrounding traffic stops are at an all-time high. These incidents are raising questions and concerns about what drivers should do when they’re pulled over by law enforcement.
On average, 32 million traffic stops occur annually, according to the Stanford University Open Policing.
“Could be the person ran a red light, didn’t stop completely at a stop sign. Improper lane usage. There’s a number of different reasons that a police officer might be pulling you over,” said Jim Craft, Executive Director, Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.
Craft went on to detail what a person can expect when they’re pulled over.
“They are going to approach a vehicle, identify themselves, and then explain the reason for the stop. Some like to request a driver’s license, registration and insurance first so they can know who they’re talking to,” he explained.
Criminal Defense Attorney, James Spokes says police have the right to pull drivers over and ask questions as long as they have reasonable suspicion.
On the other hand, drivers have the right to remain silent.
“Make sure that you say I respectfully, officer, I prefer not to answer any questions without having a lawyer present. And at that point, the officer is required to stop asking you questions directly in line with what information they’re trying to get out of you,” he explained.
If an officer asks a driver to exit their vehicle, the officer must present a reason. For example, they may suggest safety as a reason.
Spokes added, “And if they do ask you, you should comply with that, especially if they deem that it’s for their own safety.”
If an officer intends to search a driver’s vehicle, the officer is required to announce their probable cause.
Spokes said if an officer asks to search a driver’s vehicle, the motorist has the right to refuse, “Unless they (the officer) can articulate what their probable cause is.”
The defense attorney added that drivers also have the right to record any behaviors that might make the officer uncomfortable.
Officials say the goal is to protect the safety of officers and motorists.