There have been recent cases across the United States where traffic stops have escalated into needless violence. There are laws that protect motorists; however, police sometimes do not follow proper procedures. It can be an intimidating and frustrating experience. This is why it’s important for motorists to know their rights after being pulled over by the police.
Traffic law attorney Jonathan W. McConnell wants to remind motorists of their rights during a traffic stop.
The Right to Remain Silent
In order to avoid a contentious situation, it’s recommended that you answer questions regarding your name, address, license, registration, and insurance. However, motorists are not required to answer anything else beyond these identifying questions. Politely tell the police officer that you “choose not to answer” if asked further questions.
Searching Your Vehicle
The only time a police officer has a right to search your vehicle is if they have “probable cause,” if you have been arrested, or if they obtain a search warrant. Otherwise, they do not have the right to search your vehicle without permission. Sometimes police will casually ask the motorist if they can “take a look inside.” You have the right to refuse this request.
Permission to Leave
If you haven’t been arrested and have answered all basic questions, then you have the right to ask if you are “free to go.” If given permission, calmly leave the scene and slowly drive away.
Keep Calm and Polite
Do not further aggravate the situation, or give the police officer an excuse to use force or add charges. Motorists should not make any sudden movements, argue, or interfere with police procedures. Keep your hands where the police can see them and be honest in your answers. Stay calm and polite at all times, and consult with a criminal or traffic law attorney if your rights are violated.