What Gives The Police The Right to Pull Me Over?

young male driver seeing police lights behind him

The police cannot stop a driver for no reason. There are a number of different justifications the police may have for stopping a driver.

Reasonable Suspicion for a Traffic Stop

In order for the police to conduct a traffic stop, the driver must have violated some law or given the officer reason to believe they are committing a criminal offense.

They may investigate a driver if:

  • The driver appears to be out of control of their vehicle
  • The car has an expired registration or inspection
  • The car headlights are not on when required by law
  • The driver was speeding
  • The driver was using their cell phone while driving

These are some of the most common reasons why an officer will stop a driver. What occurs after the stop will depend on the evidence at hand.

Outcomes After a Traffic Stop

Ideally, the traffic stop ends with the officer issuing a warning and letting the driver go without punishment. However, that is not what always happens. Depending on the circumstances of the stop, there are a few different outcomes.

First, the driver may be issued a ticket. This is the most common outcome for speeding or other traffic violations that aren’t necessarily criminal offenses.

However, the stop may also result in an arrest. This is what will occur if the traffic stop ends up presenting evidence that the driver is violating the law. Common reasons for arrests after a traffic stop are DWI, drug crimes, and weapons offenses.


A driver may be arrested for DWI if they are found to be driving while intoxicated by any amount of drugs or alcohol that is affecting their ability to operate the vehicle.

The driver may be arrested after submitting to breath tests, field sobriety tests, or admitting to driving while intoxicated.

Drug and Weapons Offenses

A driver will typically be charged with a drug or weapons offense after a vehicle search. This may occur if the driver approaches the vehicle and asks to conduct a routine search. If the driver consents, the officer can search the car and use anything they find as evidence.

Drivers should be aware that they are often within their rights to refuse a warrantless vehicle search. Once they consent, though, the search is legal.

I Was Illegally Stopped in NY. What Should I Do?

You may have reason to believe that you were wrongfully stopped and arrested in New York. If this is the case, contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. After explaining your case to your defense attorney, they can further investigate and figure out whether or not the initial stop was legal. If they can convince the courts that the initial stop was illegal, it is highly likely that any charges against you will be dismissed.

Evidence that can help prove the illegal nature of the stop includes:

  • Footage from the incident: If you have a dashcam in your car that captured the events leading to the stop, as well as the audio and video from the stop, this can be extremely beneficial to your case. The police car may also have recorded the stop.
  • Witnesses: If you had any passengers in your car, their testimony could help your case.
  • Your account of events: Take notes about your stop. You can share your recollection of events to also further emphasize that the stop was illegal.

It is important to note that while having no probable cause for the traffic stop is one reason it could be illegal, there are also numerous other types of illegal stops.

The police cannot make traffic stops because of:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Hunches
  • To meet quotas
  • A driver’s criminal record

If the driver makes a stop for one of these reasons, it will also be deemed illegal.

DWI Defense Attorneys in NYC

If you were recently stopped and arrested in New York City, contact }. We will further investigate your situation to see if the initial reason for the stop was valid, as well as look for any evidence of police misconduct during the stop or arrest. Reach our team today at (718) 395-6755.