It seems there's a new story almost every week of a traffic stop gone wrong across America, and Wisconsin is no exception.
If you've ever been pulled over in Wisconsin, you know how stressful it can be to hear sirens blaring and see flashing lights in your rear view mirror. Your mind and heart may race as you navigate your way to the right side of the road.
While it's normal to feel stressed during a stop, staying calm and composed during the moments that follow can be crucial to both your safety and your freedom.
This article will offer insight into why a calm and focused or "Zen" state of mind can be of benefit to you if you suddenly find yourself being pulled over by police in Wisconsin.
For tips on how to handle a drunk driving traffic stop, read the article, "Checklist: What to Do if You're Pulled Over for OWI in Wisconsin" by Stangl Law.
Stay in the Moment When Pulled Over by Police
Feeling nervous or anxious during a traffic stop is perfectly natural, but it can be counter-productive when you allow it to cloud your judgement.
As challenging as it might be, try to not to run through worst case scenarios like, "am I going to be arrested?" Instead, remind yourself that you haven't been charged of anything yet.
The police are simply requesting you pull over so they can further investigate whatever caught their attention in the first place. After all, the reason for the stop could be as simple as a burnt-out tail light.
If you are concerned about serving time for driving under the influence of an intoxicant or DUI in Wisconsin, read the Stangl Law article, "Will I Go to Jail for Drunk Driving (OWI) in Wisconsin?"
Use Any Prior Convictions to Stay Focused
If you have prior convictions on your criminal record, it's understandable that you may find it more difficult to remain calm during a traffic stop in Madison or elsewhere across the state.
If your prior conviction was for an OWI conviction (operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant), there is reason to be concerned since Wisconsin increased penalties for repeat OWI offenses. But use that concern as incentive to help maintain your focus.
Instead of getting nervous, use your previous experience to help settle yourself down and keep any anxiety in check. Knowing what could be at stake can be the motivation you need to sober your mood and calm state of mind.
The more details you can remember and later communicate to your lawyer, the better chance you will have at a strong defense if you do end up facing drunk driving or other charges.
For more important information regarding drunk driving stops, read the article, "8 Wake-Up Calls Regarding OWI Traffic Stops in Wisconsin" by Madison's Stangl Law.
Focus on Your Breathing to Stay Calm While Waiting for Police to Approach
Another tip you can use to help calm yourself down during a traffic stop on Wisconsin roadways is to focus on your breathing.
Take slow, deep breaths. Find a breathing technique that works best for you and use it to help get your nerves under control.
You can start this as soon as you pull over and continue to focus on your breathing while you wait for the officer to approach your vehicle.
This is also a good time to remind yourself of your rights.
The Zen of Knowing Your Rights in Wisconsin
It's important to remain calm, polite and respectful with the police, but that does not mean you are required under Wisconsin law to take every action the police ask of you.
For instance, did you know you are not required to participate in field sobriety tests during an OWI traffic stop?
Also, you want to remain mindful of what you say. Most people operate under the assumption that you have to answer every question the police ask you.
When it comes to protecting your rights, there are times when you do not have to answer police questions or do what police ask.
It's important to know exactly what these exceptions are, in order to avoid risking additional criminal charges.
If you are taken into custody as a result of your traffic stop, remember police are required to inform you of your rights.
Consult a knowledgeable attorney about the specific details of your case if you suspect your rights have been denied.
The Benefits of Staying Calm During Traffic Stops in Wisconsin
Whatever thoughts might be running through your mind when you are pulled over, remember that acting nervous or panicking can work against your best interests when dealing with the police.
Always try to present a calm, polite and respectful manner to police, however you're feeling.
Maintaining your composure can have many benefits, including:
- Allow you to think clearly
- Help you remember to exercise your rights
- Increase your ability to remember important information you may need to recall later
- Avoid giving a false impression of guilt to police
Should you choose to participate in field sobriety tests, shaking from feeling nervous could create false positive results.
Agitated or nervous behavior might give a false impression of guilt to police. When an officer assumes his or her safety or the safety of by-standers might be in jeopardy, things can go wrong.
Keeping your cool during traffic stops is one thing you can do to try to help keep the situation from escalating.
While you focus on calming yourself, also stay mindful that you may not be the only one who is feeling nervous.
Read the article, "3 Steps to Take During a Traffic Stop to Avoid Self-Incrimination for OWI" by Stangl Law for more tips.
You're Not the Only One Who Might be Nervous During Your Wisconsin Traffic Stop
As surprising as it may sound, the police officer for your traffic stop might be nervous, too.
Law enforcement is a high-risk occupation. Police put their lives on the line every day and never know what kind of situation they're walking into or what to expect from the people they encounter.
The investigating officer might be on edge due to a situation he or she just left, or due to what type of encounter he or she may be expecting based on observations of your driving behavior or other factors.
While this is no defense for denying you your rights, it is good to keep in mind.
Contact an Attorney
If your traffic stop leads to an arrest or criminal charges, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney right away. If you're facing OWI charges as a result of your traffic stop, it's crucial to get in touch with a Wisconsin attorney skilled in OWI defense right away.
By exploring the details of your experience, together you may discover important information which can be used to help in your defense.
FREE 15-Minute Consultation
With over 25 years of experience fighting to protect the rights of the innocent across Wisconsin, Madison Criminal Defense Attorney Pat Stangl is pleased to offer you a FREE 15-minute consultation at no obligation to discuss the details of your case and explore options for your defense. Click the link below to get started today.