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How to Act at a Traffic Stop in Virginia | Bristol, VA Traffic Lawyer

Known as a twin city, Bristol’s State Street straddles the Tennessee-Virginia state line, designated by a bronze marker embedded in the pavement.  The town’s central location and efficient transportation connections make it the center of the five-state area, facilitating easy travel between Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina.[1]  Unfortunately, this convenience often comes at the price of increased speed traps and traffic citations.

Each year, 24% percent of residents and visitors experience contact with police; the most common reason for local law enforcement run-ins is being a driver in a traffic stop. [2]   This means there is an almost 1 in 4 chance of being pulled over each year.[3]  Although being stopped by law enforcement can be intimidating, it is critical to take the necessary steps to ensure the situation does not escalate.  We encourage you to read through this article to learn how to act during a Virginia traffic stop to set yourself up for the best possible outcome.

In the interim, if you were issued a traffic citation, we encourage you to take advantage of our free consultation to learn about your rights and how we can help.  Call us 24/7 to schedule your free consultation with experienced Bristol traffic lawyer Mark Hurt!

Do I Need a Bristol, VA Traffic Lawyer for A Speeding Ticket, Reckless Driving Charge, or Other Offense?

The chances of securing a more favorable outcome in traffic cases in Bristol increase significantly when an individual is represented by an experienced Virginia traffic attorney.  At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have provided clients with tenacious legal representation for over three decades and secured countless dismissals or significant reductions in fines and charges.

Unlike other firms that charge by the hour, we offer affordable fixed fees in traffic cases.  Further, for your convenience, we accept credit card payments.

Firm-founding attorney Mark Hurt is a native Bristolian who obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his law degree from Duke University (where he graduated with honors).  Before returning to the Tri-Cities, Mark gained invaluable experience practicing litigation in renowned firms in Dallas, Texas, and Washington DC.  He has a reputation for being an aggressive litigator with a track record of success for mitigating damages and obtaining dismissals in traffic cases.

Increase the likelihood that you will receive a favorable outcome in your case—call us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Why Do Traffic Cops Typically Pull People Over in Bristol, VA?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 217 million vehicles are currently operating on American roads, and nearly 50,000 drivers are pulled over daily.  While speeding is the most common reason for stops, there are several other primary reasons why residents and visitors are pulled over, including:

  • Cell Phone Violation
  • Roadside Sobriety Check
  • Failure to Wear a Seat Belt
  • Illegal Turn or Lane Change
  • Stop Sign or Traffic Light Violation
  • Record Check
  • Tailgating
  • Reckless Driving
  • No Reason

Do I Have to Answer an Officer’s Questions During a Virginia Traffic Stop?

The first thing you should expect when an officer pulls you over is for them to ask you some questions, such as:

  • Do you have your license and registration?
  • How fast were you going before I pulled you over?
  • Are you driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

It is important to note that you have a constitutional right to remain silent, meaning you are not required to answer a law enforcement officer’s questions.  However, the best course of action is typically to be as polite and compliant as possible while avoiding answering any questions that could be potentially incriminating.  For example, if you disclose that you were driving a couple of miles over the limit, this is an admission of guilt that could be used against you in court.

If you are unclear on why you are being stopped or what you are being charged with, it is permissible to ask generally:

  • Why am I being pulled over?
  • What are you charging me with?

Should I Get Out of My Car During a Traffic Stop?

During a traffic stop, individuals should not exit a vehicle unless they are specifically asked to do so.  Further, while an officer is speaking to a driver, it is best to keep both hands on the steering wheel, so that an officer does not think that you are trying to hide evidence or reach for a weapon.

What Mistakes Should I Avoid During a Bristol, Virginia Traffic Stop?

During a traffic stop, it is critical to avoid alarming a police officer in any way and incriminating oneself.  Drivers should always do everything in their power to not do anything suspicious (or engage in behavior that may be interpreted as suspicious even if the actions are innocent) because this can provoke an officer into searching a vehicle.

It is also imperative to strike the right balance between being compliant and not incriminating oneself by admitting to breaking the law.  For example, if a police officer asks a question, and a driver answers with an explanation or excuse, this could constitute an admission, which can significantly hinder potential defenses in court.

Additionally, do not argue with an officer.  The time to argue about guilt or innocence is not at the scene of a stop; rather it is through the legal process.  Arguing or any combative behavior will not result in a favorable outcome for a person being stopped, but it can lead to more serious charges.

What Should I Do If I Think I am Being Pulled Over by Someone Who is Impersonating a Virginia Police Officer?

If you are concerned that you are being pulled over by someone impersonating an officer, you are entitled to request to see their badge immediately.  Do not hide the fact that you are concerned about your safety.  Lastly, call the police department to verify that the individual pulling you over is indeed a police officer.

Talk to a Bristol, Virginia Traffic Lawyer Before Answering Questions!

Before answering any incriminating questions asked by a traffic officer, know that you have a constitutional right to request a lawyer.  Once you request to speak with a Virginia traffic attorney, officers should stop asking questions.  However, if they continue an interrogation, you still have the right to remain silent.

As an experienced Bristol speeding and traffic citation lawyer, it is Mark Hurt’s job is to protect the rights of clients.  After being pulled over, contact our office as soon as possible so we can explain your legal options for seeking to eliminating or reducing traffic violation penalties, fighting a charge in court, or seeking another favorable outcome.  We have operators standing by twenty-four hours a day to take your call and schedule a free consultation.

[1] About Bristol, Bristol VA,

[2] Contacts Between Police and the Public, Bureau of Justice Statistics,

[3] Contacts Between Police and the Public, Bureau of Justice Statistics,

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Frankie was the best. She helped me mentally, lawfully, she communicates and I appreciate her. I would never ever contact anyone else other than her if I’m ever in a situation in VA and if this law firm can cross state lines I would pay them! I felt so secure and safe! Thanks so much!
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