Traffic Stop

Pulled Over? 10 Traffic Stop Rules You Need to Know

Lets face, it we’ve all been there, seeing flashing lights in our rear-view mirror and hearing the scream of the siren. Getting pulled over is a nerve-racking obstacle that has to be endured from time to time. But how do you properly interact with law enforcement officials after being pulled over?

Acknowledge the officer by turning on flashers. To let the officer know that you’ve seen his/her lights and hear his/her siren. This also lets the police officer know that you plan on pulling over. This is also recommended if you think you’ll need to drive a distance before you can find a safe place to pull over.

Traffic Stop

Pull over to a safe area. Typically, you want to pull over to the right side of the road. When looking for a spot to pull over to, think “safety first” for both you and the officer. Look for an area with a wide shoulder so passing traffic isn’t a hazard. If it’s nighttime, look for place that’s well lit if possible. That will help put the officer at ease. Parking lots and well-lit side streets are other safe places to pull over.

Stay in the car. If you get out of the car as soon as you stop, it may give the impression to the officer that you’re going to be aggressive or you have something to hide in the car.

Turn off your engine and roll down your window. As soon as you come to a stop, turn off your engine and roll down your window. If it’s dark out, turn on your interior lights so the officer can see what’s going on inside the vehicle.

Traffic Stop

Stay calm. It’s common for you to feel as if your heart sinks in your chest, your palms start sweating, and to be nervous whenever you get pulled over. Take some deep breaths and relax. Unless you’ve done something outright criminal (i.e. driving intoxicated, possessing illegal drugs, etc.) there’s nothing to be nervous about. The worst that can happen during a routine traffic stop is that you’ll have to pay a fine.  Remember that the officer is probably nervous too.

Move deliberately. Keep your hands resting on the wheel in plain sight and don’t make any sudden movements. You don’t want to give him or her any reason to believe you’re a threat. Wait for the officer to ask for your documents so they know what you’re doing. Don’t try to expedite the process by getting your license and registration ready while the officer approaches your car. If your documents are somewhere other than your glove compartment, let the officer know that you’ll be reaching somewhere unexpected. After you’ve handed the officer your paperwork, return your hands to the steering wheel. It keeps them visible to the officer.

Traffic Stop

Be civil. Be polite and respectful in your communications with the officer. Yes, it is frustrating to get a ticket, but calling the officer names, threatening them, or being rude won’t get you anywhere. In fact, it could make things worse. If the officer happens to be a woman, refer to her as “officer” or “ma’am,” not “sweetheart” or “honey.” She’s an officer of the law and deserves respect.

If you plan on fighting your ticket, keep your answers short and don’t directly admit wrongdoing since everything you say to an officer is admissible in court.  However, do not lie or give false information to a law enforcement officer, as that could subject you to further charges.  

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from self-incrimination; it does NOT give you the right to lie or deceive law enforcement officers. Regardless of the initial reason for the stop, giving false information to an officer is sure to complicate the situation.

Don’t Consent to Search. You don’t have to consent to a search. In order to search your vehicle without your consent, an officer needs probable cause (i.e. a liquor bottle on your seat or a visible controlled substance). If they don’t have probable cause but want to search your car anyway, they’ll need your consent and may ask you something like, “You don’t mind me taking a look in your car, do you?” Even if you haven’t done anything illegal, it’s usually a good idea to exercise your Fourth Amendment right in this situation and decline the search. Be polite when declining the search but clearly state, “I don’t consent to a search, officer,” loud enough so it gets on the police recorder.

At that point, if the officer believes he has probable cause to detain you and search your vehicle, cooperate with him politely while reiterating that you did not consent to the search. This search can be argued in court later.

Arguments are for the court room, not for the field.

Be safe when merging back into traffic. Take your time to store your belongings before you re-enter traffic.  If you’re upset, collect yourself before driving away.  When you’re ready, turn on your signal and merge back into traffic.

Contact an attorney.  If you received a citation, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss how to proceed appropriately.  Attorneys can often get your charges reduced to avoid costly points on your insurance or license.

Have you been pulled over and need an attorney? Let Surratt & Thompson help you with your Traffic Offenses. Contact us today at 336.725.8323.

Guest author: Emily Sells-Salie, Paralegal

Domestic Violence Legal Winston Salem

Need Help? Here’s What You Need to Know About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence affects people in every state, race, social class, and profession. The North Carolina statutes define domestic violence as the commission of one or more of the followings acts against another person whom you have had a personal relationship with:

1. Attempting to cause bodily injury to a party, or

2. Placing the aggrieved party, or a member of the aggrieved party’s family, in fear of imminent harm or harassment.

If you are in danger, call the police immediately. If you are in an abusive relationship, there are many ways to get help. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (nccadv.org) has many great resources to help you get away from your abuser and keep you safe including a hotline — 1-800- 799-SAFE (7233).

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), approximately 10 million men and women are physically or mentally abused by their partner in a single year. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been abused by their partner.

Domestic violence can affect an individual’s health and economic status. NCADV has found that between 21% and 60% of domestic violence victims lose their jobs for reasons stemming from domestic violence. This has resulted in a loss of up to 8 million days of paid work annually, which is roughly equal to $8.3 billion in lost wages and revenue.


One of the best legal options is to get a Domestic Violence Protective Order.

What is a Domestic Violence Protective Order?

A Domestic Violence Protective Order in North Carolina is often referred to as a 50B order. If the Court finds that an individual has been the victim of domestic violence or is in danger, the court can sign a 50B requiring the defendant to stop harassing, abusing, following, or contacting the victim. A 50B can also protect the victim’s pets from further abuse by the defendant. If the victim and the defendant live together, the court may instruct the defendant to vacate the residence, and the court can also make temporary child custody decisions.

Domestic Violence Paperwork Winston Salem NC

How Do I Get a Protective Order?

In order to file for a 50B in Forsyth County, go to the 7th floor of the Forsyth County Hall of Justice to Safe on Seven. The staff of Safe on Seven will assist you in filling out the petition for a 50B. Be prepared to describe the abuse in detail. On this petition, you can also ask for temporary custody of any children and temporary possession of a shared residence. If you believe you are in continued danger, you may ask the court for an ex parte Order to be signed before a full hearing. This ex parte order may be granted immediately and will last until a full hearing can be had. Your petition and any ex parte order will be served upon the defendant by the Sheriff’s Department along with notice for a court date for a hearing.

At this hearing you will tell the judge about the abusive situation. Make sure that you bring any relevant pictures, documents, or witnesses of the abuse. Even if the defendant does not attend the hearing, the court can still grant the 50B. However, if you fail to appear at this hearing, the petition will likely be dismissed. If the court grants the 50B, it will last for one year.


What Happen if the Defendant Violates the Protective Order?

If the defendant violates the 50B in any way, he can be charged with a crime, possibly resulting in jail time. Please note that you as the victim cannot give the defendant permission to violate the 50B – it is an order from the court. Any contact with your consent during a period that the 50B is in effect is still a violation and could result in criminal charges.


What Happens If I Change My Mind?

If you have obtained a 50B and decide that you no longer want it to be in effect, you can file a motion to have it lifted. At the hearing for this motion, you must show the court that

1. You want the 50B lifted

2. You do not anticipate violence from the defendant

3. You want to resume contact, or

4. The circumstances have changed.

Contact the attorneys at Surratt & Thompson, PLLC to help you obtain a 50B so you don’t have to go through this process alone.

Remember: if you are a victim of domestic violence, there is help.

Contributing Author: Greg Rouse is a J.D. Candidate at Elon University School of Law. Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. Rouse received his B.S. in Business from the University of South Carolina at Upstate.

Winston-Salem Skyline

Our Favorite Eats in Winston Salem!

Let’s talk food! Our law firm, Surratt & Thompson, PLLC is located in downtown Winston-Salem, and we work best on a full stomach. We support local clients and restaurants. It’s even better if the eatery is within walking distance! How about lunch, an early dinner, a bite during an Art Walk, or cocktails after work? Forsyth county’s City of Arts and Innovation has it covered. With a mix of newcomers and old favorites, here are our favorite Winston-Salem Restaurants, alphabetized by category.


Winston Salem

Burger Batch, on 5th Street (next to Small Batch) is a gourmet burger, sandwich, and shake place. The crafted menu contains items with local names. Bonus: you can also customize your own meal. Get The Winston, with potato chips, pimento cheese, and onion marmalade. And if you’re thirsty, a beer from next door is just a hallway’s walk away for your waiter.


Thai Harmony, next to the Wells Fargo building, specializes in an upscale presentation of traditional Thai dishes. The menu also includes well-priced, superbly made sushi rolls and a few Chinese entrees. The mother and daughter team behind Thai Harmony are seasoned, hardworking cooks and hospitality professionals. One reviewer said that the food “steals the show.” Try everything on the menu.

Winston Salem


Winston Salem

Wise Man Brewery, in the historic Angelo Brothers building downtown, is a member of the North Carolina State Brewers Guild. They just opened a new taproom at the end of January. Patrons can enjoy a “clean tasting and clear” beer with a view of the brewery. This newbie has all the good properties of being a great addition to the local beer scene. Try an IPA or a stout: Wise Man’s knowledgeable staff help you pick one out! They also serve snacks with their brews, so they made the cut for our blog.


Quanto Basta Italian Bistro on Spring and 4th is the Italian restaurant of star chef Tim Grandinetti (Spring House). The communal style of Grandinetti’s industrial/rustic venue is second only to his return-to-childhood Italian American cuisine. Get Nonna’s Baked Ziti, and have your waiter suggest a companion wine from the well-curated, international selection.

Winston Salem
Winston Salem

Di Lisio’son Brookstown Avenue in the old Screaming Rooster, is a family owned, authentically Italian restaurant. The owners are restaurateurs from Napoli, and they have recreated the atmosphere of Southern Italy here in Winston-Salem. Tony DiLisio makes his own killer sauces, and bakes the restaurant’s fresh bread daily. Get the Penne alla Vodka (pink sauce!) or the Fried Ravioli, and settle in for a delicious meal.


Winston Salem

Munch Box on Peters Creek is a chain with national appeal, in the breakfast-goes-lunch food niche. One reviewer thinks that it’s better than Chick Fil-A. Get the Tijuana Hot, and choose your bread and spread. Hint: you will need to drink copious amounts of water with the spicy Tijuana.


George’s Grecian Corner is a Winston-Salem Landmark! Located on Eden Terrace near Wake Baptist Hospital, they serve delicious Greek, American, and Italian favorites. We recommend their mouth-watering Souvlaki. And for dessert you’ve got to try the loukomades for an unforgettable sweet honey taste!

Winston Salem

Modern Southern

Winston Salem

Sweet Potatoes on Trade Street is great Southern food that is both simple and uniquely delicious. With sides that are to die for and all sorts of delicious Southern favorites, you won’t be disappointed. You can’t go wrong with their fried chicken, pork chops, or mac n’ cheese. Drop in for Lunch or Dinner, or even for Brunch on Sundays! Though Sweet Potatoes is an old favorite, they will be moving down the block this year to a bigger space, and will be opening a fried chicken counter next door! Yum!


Ackingna’s Place, on New Walkertown Road, has sublime soul food and customer service.  Imagine homemade goodness served hot. One customer said that they make “the best fish sandwich I’ve ever had.” The service is praised just as highly as the food. Get the $5.50 plate with 1 meat and 2 sides and a lemonade.

So… where do you want to eat first?


Getting Your Startup Off the Ground… Legally!

Why a good lawyer is vital to your new business venture.

So you’ve done it! You are taking concrete steps to making your dream of starting a business a reality! Now while you would probably prefer to focus on the creative parts of your new startup, it is necessary to jump into the legal world ASAP.

As soon as you are moving towards getting your startup off the ground , it is time to hire an attorney to help you navigate the ins and outs of your business. Many small business owners make the mistake of contacting a lawyer only after crisis has struck: a zoning law halts building, you’ve been trapped by a faulty contract, or tax forms are haunting your dreams.

Do yourself a favor and start building a relationship with a trusty, Forsyth County law firm as soon as you are ready to start with your business plans. Having a law team on your side from day one will ensure that your new startup can keep moving forward!

What You Need to Get Your Startup Off the Ground

So what kind of legal help will you need for your startup?

  1. Contract negotiation with suppliers and clients. You will also want a lawyer to look over any documents you are asked to sign for your business.
  2. Real estate contracts, which should be negotiated by a lawyer to ensure that your interests are being considered.
  3. Hiring employees and negotiating salary, benefits and more.
  4. Understanding tax consequences for your actions as a business so you don’t end up violating the law unintentionally.
  5. Patents, copyrights and trademarks are vital to the protection of your intellectual property in a startup. Make sure your ideas are legally protected.

The first step is finding a law firm that will be best for your startup and can meet your particular needs as a business. There are two main categories that you have to consider first: a small or a large firm. Some assume that bigger is better when it comes to hiring a law firm, but that is not always true.

Sure, a big corporate law firm may be able to offer a wider range of legal services and personnel, but it comes at a price. Unless you really need the size and breadth of a huge law firm, it just isn’t worth the overhead cost you will have to shell out. In addition, you will be making a relationship sacrifice, not just a financial one.

With smaller, local law firms, you can build a relationship that will continue for the life of your business. You won’t just be a number or a face, but a person with a dream that the law firm can help you achieve. In addition, having a local law firm on your side will help with establishing clout in your community, because the lawyers will know the goings-on of your area.


Surratt & Thompson, PLLC, is ready to help your Winston-Salem startup get on its feet. Our team has the tools, connections and know-how when it comes to legally backing your business. Contact us  today with your questions and concerns about corporate law and we will show you how we can help your business grow!

Legal Services

Overcoming the “Do It Yourself” Mentality for Your Legal Services

When it comes to dealing with legal paperwork, there is a lot to handle. Making sure everything is properly filled out and that you have all the correct files can be a difficult process for anyone to go through. Trying to tackle the legal world on your own can be a stressful experience and can consume all your time. You should not be afraid or too proud to ask for help with your legal needs. Just think about all the time experienced attorneys spend in school, learning the ins and outs of the law. It’s impossible to fit that education into a short period of time and learn it all online. That is why we do what we do! We use our expertise to guide and support our clients through complex, and even seemingly simple, legal situations.

Contact Surratt & Thompson for experienced legal assistance!

While you may think you can handle it yourself and want to save the money, many legal processes are too complex for anyone to navigate without dedicating a lot of time. And even then, it’s possible that you make a mistake which can cost you more in the long run. Working with experienced attorneys will ensure a thorough and smooth legal experience.

Legal Services

You may not know all your benefits.

Whether you are working on disability claims or veteran benefits, you might be told just to fill out some paperwork. You probably think this is all there is to do, but you might be missing out on so many more benefits. If you are unfamiliar with the legal realm, you could easily be missing out on many opportunities just because you are not aware of them. When you hire an experienced attorney to support you through your legal experience, you create the opportunity to gain much more than you would on your own.

No task is too small.

If you are just filling out some quick paperwork, you might think that the only option is to handle it on your own. It can appear that successful and experienced attorneys do not want to be bothered with such small tasks. However, the reality is that they want to help you succeed in your legal needs, no matter how large or small! You will not be turned away for your situation being too insignificant for them to handle. And even if you think it is simple enough, it is always best to consult an experienced attorney. Some paperwork mistakes can be costly, and we could save you money in the long run.

It saves you time.

When you are working with someone who has efficiently handled legal situations before, you know that you will receive the same treatment. When you are trying to tackle the work on your own, it can take a lot of time. You might have to research what needs to be done or continually go back and correct mistakes you have made. Not to mention, your lack of experience in legal jargon can cause you to make errors. When you work with an experienced attorney, they know what needs to happen and have the resources to help your legal experience proceed smoothly and efficiently.

Legal Services

Here at Surratt & Thompson, our experienced attorneys are here to help you no matter how big or small your needs are. Our goal is to make your legal experience as stress free and painless as possible. We will work alongside you for all your legal needs in Forsyth County, Davie County, and other surrounding areas to ensure that your experience is as quick and beneficial as possible.

Contact us today, we promise we can find the best legal solutions for you and your needs.

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