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Viral video of police stop has drivers thinking about rights

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)– Video taken during a DUI checkpoint stop in Tennessee has gone viral,and has some drivers thinking about what their rights are when they’re pulled over by police.

The stop was recorded by a 21-year-old Tennessee man during the holiday weekend and he posted the exchange to You Tube. In the video that’s edited, viewers can see the driver refusing to completely roll his window to talk to the officers.

When he refused, the officer ordered him to pull the car to the side of the road. The situation escalated and led to the driver’s car being inspected by a k-9 officer. After the dog made an alert, the officer had probably cause to search the inside of the man’s car.

In the video, the officer finds nothing illegal. Law enforcement expert Steve Neal says both parties could have handled the situation better. [CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF TRAFFIC STOP]

He and CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone reviewed the video with CBS 6 News. Both agreed that there didn’t seem to be any laws broken on either side.

Stone said there is no law on how far down you have to lower your window when an officer stops you. Neal says if drivers choose to do what this 21-year old did, they should expect that their actions will raise the suspicions of just about any police officer.

Neal says when stopped, drivers must supply license and registration to an officer upon request. Stone said a driver has the right to challenge police on some things.

“It’s never a good idea to be a jerk to a police officer but you don’t have to admit to anything that would incriminate you. You don’t have to make statements like that,” Stone explained.

“The actions of the individual likely raised suspicions when he reacted in that manner off the bat. It probably raised the  irritation level of the officer, but it’s incumbent of the officer to remain professional and to act appropriately” Neal said.

Some organizations like the NAACP provide informational cards for drivers containing the dos and don’ts when they’re approached by police.  King Salim Khalfani with the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP said the cards include things like, comply with police and be polite. Drivers are also urged to provide identification and registration when it’s requested.

Other directions include, don’t touch the officer, keep your hands in plan view and keep your emotions in check.

Khalfani says they also urge drivers who want to challenge what an officer does on a traffic stop, to do that in court.

He says they’ve seen too many cases like this escalate and end with tragic results.

“Comply, or die. You need to just make it through the encounter. Challenge it later in court. You can’t do that from a pine box,” Khalfani said.

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