Being stopped by the police is always a stressful experience, but it can be even more so if you are carrying a gun. In some states, it is perfectly legal to carry a gun in public as long as you have the proper permits and licenses. However, even if you are legally carrying a gun, there are certain protocols you should follow to make sure the situation doesn’t escalate.
Importantly, a recent report stated that the use of firearms while driving increases the risk of being injured or killed in an automobile accident. The study analyzed data from 1.8 million automobile accidents that occurred in the United States between 1995 and 2010. The researchers found that 7% of the injured drivers and 10% of the drivers killed were handling firearms at the time of the accident. While it is legal to have a gun in a vehicle in many states, it is important to take steps to reduce the risk of being injured or killed if you are in an accident.
If you are carrying a firearm while driving and are stopped by the police, it is important to know how to act. It is critical to remain calm and understand that the situation can quickly become dangerous. Here are some tips on how to act if you are carrying a gun when stopped. Doing so could not only save your life, but also the life of the officer making the traffic stop:
- At a police roadblock, as soon as you stop, turn off the engine, turn on the interior lights, roll down the driver’s side window, and remain in your vehicle with your hands on the steering wheel.
- Remain calm and do not make any sudden movements. Do not reach around your vehicle for your license and registration until the officer asks you to do so, the officer may be nervous and any sudden movement could cause him or her to react aggressively. Keep your hands where they can be seen and follow all instructions given to you by the officer.
- Do not reach for your weapon. Even if you have done nothing wrong, the officer may perceive it as a threat and react accordingly. If you need to take something, let the officer know what you are doing before you do it so you are not caught by surprise.
- Although Virginia law does not require concealed handgun owners to voluntarily disclose at a traffic stop that they are armed, you can extend courtesy to an officer by letting him or her know that you have a firearm in your vehicle and where the weapon is located.
- If he has a concealed carry permit, you can give him his permit along with his license and registration. Remember that you are required by law to carry his permit when possessing a concealed firearm and he must provide it if the officer asks for it.
- Cooperate but remain firm in asserting your rights. You should always answer the officer’s questions truthfully, but you are also within your rights to refuse to answer questions that may incriminate you. You may refuse if an officer asks to search your person or vehicle unless you have probable cause or a warrant.
- If you are stopped, exercise your right to remain silent until an attorney is present. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, so it is best to remain silent until you have legal representation.
- Document everything that happens during the police encounter. This includes writing down the names and badge numbers of the officers involved, as well as any witnesses who may have seen what happened. Photographs of any injuries sustained during the arrest can also be helpful in building your case later down the road.
- Most importantly, remember to remain calm and wait for any instructions from the officer.
If you are ever stopped by a police officer and are carrying a firearm, remain calm and follow the officer’s instructions. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call our firm today for a free consultation. At Attorney at Right Path Law Group, we will work with you to ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way, call us today at (703) 637-9999.