No one wakes up in the morning expecting to get pulled over by a law enforcement officer. However, when those lights start flashing in your rearview, your heart falls into your stomach and you're scared. This is true even if you've done nothing wrong. If you are unaware of the civil rights that you have, you can sometimes make the traffic stop worse for yourself. Therefore, it is important that you know at least these three civil rights:
Civil Right #1: You Have the Right to Refuse a Search.
It isn't uncommon for police officers to ask a driver or even a passenger if they can search the vehicle that they are in after they have been pulled over for any kind of traffic offense – from speeding to DUIs. However, unless the officer has clear probable cause or a court-ordered warrant, they do not have the right to search your vehicle and you do not, under any circumstances, have to provide them the consent to search.
The only time that the officer does not need probable cause or a warrant to search your vehicle is if you give the officer your consent. In addition, it is important to realize that police don't have to tell you that you have this particular civil right. Instead, it is your responsibility to know. So, if you don't want to give them the consent, then let them know in a direct, yet polite way.
Civil Right #2: You Have the Right to Refuse to Answer Questions by Police.
If you are pulled over by police and are asked a question, you don't have to answer. This is your civil right. For example, one of the most common questions that law enforcement officers will ask you as soon as they walk up to your car window is if you know why they've pulled you over. This is a question that you are under no obligation to answer. Questions unrelated to the traffic stop, such as where you're going or if you have anything illegal in your vehicle, are off-limits as well, despite the fact that they will ask you and try to get an answer out of you.
Civil Right #3: You Have the Right to Request Police Officer Information.
If you are concerned about the way your traffic stop was handled in any way, such as maybe you feel that the officer violated your civil rights, you need a way to identify the officer or officers that were responsible for such. For that reason, you have the right to ask the law enforcement officer for their name and badge number so that you can keep this information for your records.
If you have recently been pulled over during a traffic stop and think that your rights may have been violated in one way or another or you have been charged, contact an attorney like Sam Baxter Bardwell, P.A. at your earliest convenience for advice on how to proceed.
Hello, I'm Phillip Kerr and I just love the legal profession and courtroom drama. Have you ever watched judge shows on TV? I know that these shows are not an accurate representation of the courtroom, but there is something you may have noticed. Some individuals come into the courtroom well-dressed, articulate, respectful and with the knowledge and documents necessary to support a case, while others come unprepared, slovenly dressed and appear as if they do not have a care in the world. How you present yourself and the knowledge that you have of the law will have an impact on how you are treated, even if you have legal representation. This blog is designed to assist those who are going to trial in doing just that.