Follow this guide to avoid complications during a simple traffic stop.
Constitutional law as it pertains to vehicle and traffic arrests
If you operate a motor vehicle in New York you can be arrested and taken into custody for a simple traffic infraction. In legal terms this issue is typically phrased as whether an officer may make a warrantless arrest based upon a petty offense? The answer is still yes. In fact, the New York Criminal Procedure Law specifically states that the officer may make the arrest when the petty offense occurred in his/her presence and geographical area of employment (or adjoining county) .
New York law as it pertains to vehicle and traffic arrests
Is a physical arrest typical? Common sense and experience tells us that a physical arrest after committing a traffic violation is not commonplace. Most law enforcement officers rank the time and effort is takes to physically arrest a violator under continuing their duties within the zone they have been assigned to patrol. However, it is well established by the Supreme Court of the United States that a traffic arrest and subsequent booking, though surely humiliating, are no more harmful to a citizens interests than the normal custodial arrest .
Typical reason why a traffic infraction would lead to arrest.
Violators who cannot (or are unwilling) to produce a license, registration, insurance, or a rental agreement (if the car is rented) will certainly draw closer scrutiny from the officer. In New York, the Court of Appeals has justified the arrest and frisk of a violator due to an inability to produce identification that would permit the issuance of a summons . Once arrested, most violators will have their car searched and then towed, which typically results in additional costs and possible charges depending on what is discovered during the search.
Things to remember when operating a motor vehicle.
When you operate a motor vehicle in New York please remember to always carry the required documentation and produce it for the office in order to increase your chance of avoiding arrest, search, and additional charges.
Additional resources provided by the author
New York Criminal Procedural Law 170.10.
ATWATER V. LAGO VISTA (99-1408) 532 U.S. 318 (2001) 195 F.3d 242, affirmed.
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