[VIDEO] Over 900 Drivers Took This Quiz, 74% Missed 1 Question
We did a quiz of hundreds of Virginians, to see if people know their rights when interacting with the police during a traffic stop. The results? A lot of people did really well, but a lot of people missed a couple of questions on the quiz, showing they don’t know their full rights and responsibilities during a traffic stop. The most commonly missed question, only 26 percent of people actually got it right, was whether or not you could drive to a well-lit area if you’re being pulled over by the police, and you didn’t feel safe for some reason. Unfortunately, only 26 percent of people got the answer right. Here’s why they got it wrong. Contact me today for your Virginia reckless driving case.
– Hi, I’m Andrew Flusche, your Virginia traffic and misdemeanor defense attorney. We did a quiz of hundreds of Virginians, to see if people know their rights when interacting with the police during a traffic stop. The results? A lot of people did really well, but a lot of people missed a couple of questions on the quiz, showing they don’t know their full rights and responsibilities during a traffic stop. Some of the questions were a little tricky, though. I wanted to go over a couple of them here in this video. The most commonly missed question, only 26 percent of people actually got it right, was whether or not you could drive to a well-lit area if you’re being pulled over by the police, and you didn’t feel safe for some reason. Unfortunately, only 26 percent of people got the answer right. The answer is no, you can’t just drive to a well-lit area where you may feel safer.
A lot of people have argued with me about this question, and the law is very clear. If the officer gives you an audible or visible signal to stop, you need to stop your vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so traffic-wise. That means, don’t stop in the middle of the interstate. Get to the side of the interstate, pull over on the shoulder. A lot of people argue with me about that, especially because a lot of people are told, especially women, that if, maybe it’s a dark area, there’s nobody around, that you could drive to a safer, well-lit area, if you feel unsafe stopping in the middle of nowhere, for example.
I’ve actually talked with some of my officer friends and looked to the law again, and talked to quite a few people on this front, and, certainly it can boil down to officer discretion. If you’re indicating to the officer that you know they’re there, and that you’re slowing down, and you’re looking for a place to pull over. That might be one thing, and you might not be charged with attempting to elude the police. However, it’s definitely the officer’s discretion. The law doesn’t say you can just slow down and show that you’re trying to stop. The law says you need to stop. If an officer wanted to charge you with attempting to elude, he certainly could. There’s also a difference between driving two blocks to a gas station, where it’s very well-lit and you feel safer, versus a very remote area, where you might have to drive several miles to find a well-lit area. Especially on the interstate, the interstate can be very dark, and there’s no lights for quite a while in Virginia sometimes. So, trying to drive to the next exit several miles down the interstate, in my opinion, is unacceptable and it’s a very hard argument to defend that you weren’t trying to elude, especially because you’re heading to the exit. That question, the answer is no, you should not drive to a well-lit area.
The second question a lot of people got wrong, about three quarters of the people got this right, was whether or not the police can search your vehicle simply by claiming that they smelled the odor of marijuana. The answer is yes. Smelling the odor of marijuana is a good reason for an officer to search your vehicle. A lot of people think they need to see marijuana or have some statement from you to be able to search, but simply smelling the odor of marijuana is a good enough reason. What I don’t like about that is there is no way to prove or disprove that the officer actually did, other than his word. I’m not saying officers lie, however, the nose might not be right sometimes. An officer’s nose could be wrong, or an officer might mistakenly think that he smelled something that he didn’t. There’s no way to prove or disprove what the nose smelled. It’s just based on your experience only. But that is a good reason to search the vehicle, if the officer claims that he smelled the odor of marijuana.
If you haven’t taken our quiz yet, there’s going to be a link in the video description here so you can take the quiz. We would love to have you participate and see if you know your rights during a traffic stop in Virginia.