Cincinnati police should have a valid reason for pulling you over. But in reality, they stop people all the time with thin reasoning. In 2019, the Ohio State Highway Patrol performed over 1,300,000 traffic stops — 805,888 were non-enforcement stops.
In addition to speeding and illegal U-turns, in the endless war on drugs, police officers make many drug arrests related to traffic stops. So, if you’re facing drug charges after a traffic stop, call Luftman, Heck & Associates. We’ll go over everything, evaluate whether the police were out of line, and fight to resolve your charges in the best possible way.
When the Police Can Stop You
The Cincinnati Police or Ohio State Highway Patrol can pull you over for the following:
- They saw you commit a traffic violation
- They have reasonable suspicion that you are or were committing a crime
- A similar vehicle was involved in a crime
- You fit the description of someone involved in a crime
What the Police Look for During a Stop
During a traffic stop, the police will:
- Check that you have a valid driver’s license and proof of auto insurance. Lack of either one of those is a ticket
- Look inside your vehicle for alcohol bottles or cans, drugs, or drug paraphernalia
- Smell the inside of the vehicle for strong aromas such as cannabis. This could lead to your arrest for a drug DUI or drug possession
- Look for signs that you are impaired, including nervousness, bloodshot eyes, or slurred speech
- Looks for weapons or other dangerous items
What You Have To Do During a Traffic Stop
During the traffic stop, keep your hands on the steering wheel where the officers can see them. If you need to reach for your wallet or purse, tell the officers what you’re going to do first.
In addition, you must:
- Identify yourself and provide a driver’s license
- Provide your date of birth
- Provide your current address
- Provide proof of auto insurance if you’re driving
- Get out of the vehicle if asked
It’s also important to know that you don’t have to answer any of the officers’ questions. You have the right to say, “I won’t answer questions about my day,” or “I choose to remain silent.”
Can the Police Search You & Your Passengers
If the police are suspicious, they’ll ask you to step out of the vehicle. Do so calmly and without argument. If they suspect you might be carrying a weapon in Ohio, they can pat you down over your clothing. The police will probably do this whether there’s any reason to believe you or anyone else in the car has a weapon.
When the Police Can Search Your Vehicle
The cops can search your vehicle if they believe you’re taking part in criminal activity or have evidence of a crime in your car.
During a search, the police look anywhere for evidence of a crime. Since drugs can be stored in small bags or vials, they can search the entire vehicle if they suspect a drug-related crime.
If the officers arrest you, they can search the area you could reach in your vehicle. They can look for evidence related to your arrest, such as drugs, drug paraphernalia, or alcohol.
If the police can’t find a reason to search your vehicle, they might ask for your permission. Never consent to a vehicle search. Always say, “No, I do not consent to a vehicle search,” or “No, you may not search my vehicle.”
What to Say If the Police Arrest You
If the police arrest you, they must tell you your Miranda rights:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you
- Do you understand these rights?
Your response should be, “I am invoking my right to remain silent, and I want a lawyer.” That’s it.
Common Drug Charges After a Traffic Stop
At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we’ve defended many people against:
Drug Possession: It’s illegal to possess any amount of a controlled substance unless you have a valid prescription. The police could arrest you for something as simple as a small amount of marijuana or a prescription bottle with someone else’s name on it. Depending on the drug, you could face a first-degree misdemeanor or a fifth-degree felony. If the police find a larger quantity of drugs, you’ll face a higher felony charge.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: You can be charged with a crime if you have items that could be used with illegal drugs. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and fines up to $250. If the prosecutor has evidence you sold paraphernalia or provided it to minors, you’ll face a harsher charge and sentence.
Drug Trafficking: A prosecutor can charge you with drug trafficking if you have a bulk amount of a controlled substance in your possession or if other evidence indicates you meant to transport, distribute, or sell the drugs. Either way, you’ll face a felony charge punishable by months in prison and high fines.
If the police stop you for speeding and end up arresting you for a drug crime, don’t argue or try to run away. Cooperate, remain silent, and contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Call a Cincinnati Drug Lawyer Today
The best way to handle drug charges is to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Mistakes are common in these situations, but an experienced defense attorney is best suited to identify them and use them to your benefit. This could lead to a reduction in the charges or a dismissal if significant evidence is declared inadmissible.
Reach out to Luftman, Heck & Associates online or at (513) 338-1890. We’re available 24/7, offer free initial consultations, and will defend you against any drug charge that arose out of a traffic stop in Cincinnati.