Being pulled over by a police officer is almost always a stressful experience, especially if you do not know the reason for the stop. Even if you know the reason, an encounter with the police can still cause you anxiety.
Police officers in Florida must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over. This means they must have seen something that gives them reason to believe you might be breaking the law.
Generally, they cannot legally pull you over for no reason just to see if they can catch you doing something illegal. (DUI checkpoints are something of an exception.)
What to say and not say
Cooperate with the police when they pull you over. You will likely be asked for your name and asked to provide a copy of your driver’s license and registration. State your name and hand over the documents, but do not say anything else.
You have a right to not answer any questions from police officers. This is particularly important if you are pulled over for DUI. If you are asked if you have been drinking, you do not have to answer.
While police officers can pull you over if they have reasonable suspicion, they cannot search your car unless they have probable cause.
Searching your vehicle
Probable cause means that there is reason to believe that evidence of a crime is in your car. Police officers may not have probable cause when they pull you over, but something could happen during the stop that gives them probable cause.
For example, if you are pulled over and a police officer sees drugs in the backseat of your car, this gives them probable cause to search your car for additional drugs. However, they can only search areas where they believe more evidence will be found.
These rules can be confusing, and it is natural to forget them when you are nervous at a traffic stop. After the stop is over, you can talk with a professional to see if any of your rights were violated.