Understanding Your Traffic Stop Rights | Criminal Defense Lawyer, Wichita, KS

Traffic Stop Rights Criminal Defense Lawyer Wichita KS

If you’re a driver, you’ve probably experienced a traffic stop, as they are relatively common occurrences. However, many people are unaware of their rights during such encounters with law enforcement officers. Understanding your traffic stop rights is essential to protect yourself and ensure a fair and lawful interaction. At the McConnell Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers in Wichita, Kansas, have detailed everything you need to know about navigating your traffic stop rights. Learn more below!

The Right To Be Informed

While the officer pulling you over is typically the first to tell you why you’re being pulled over, you still have the right to ask the officer why you are being stopped if you believe you have done nothing wrong. Before pulling you over, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime or that you have committed a traffic violation. This can be as simple as the officer believing you are speeding. It can also be because you have a broken taillight or because your license plate tag is expired. Once stopped, the officer who pulled you over should be able to provide the specific violation they suspect you have committed, and if this information is not provided voluntarily, our criminal defense lawyers recommend politely inquiring about the reason for the stop. Not only will this help give you a better understanding of the situation, but it can help you determine how to proceed appropriately.

The Right To Remain Silent

As a driver, you have the right to remain silent. While it is essential to cooperate with the officer, you are not obliged to answer potentially self-incriminating questions. You can respectfully decline to answer questions beyond providing your identification, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Remember, anything you say can be used against you, so it’s often best to exercise caution when speaking during a traffic stop. However, it’s important to understand that refusing to answer questions may result in an initial arrest. If this is the case, continue to remain silent until you can contact an attorney. In Kansas, you must clearly invoke your right to remain silent by not continuing to engage or converse with the officer on a different topic, as this may be used against you later. If you have already answered some questions, you can still refuse to answer any following questions at any time.

The Right To Refuse Field Sobriety Testing

After being pulled over, if the officer suspects you are driving under the influence, you may be asked to do some tests. Know that you have the right to refuse a preliminary breath test and field sobriety testing, even if the officer implies that you must complete these tests. A preliminary breath test, or PBT, is a portable test that officers may request that you blow into before they arrest you for DUI. This test may not be used as substantive evidence during your trial, but officers can use it in the field to determine whether or not to arrest you for DUI.

Another common request that officers make is that you complete standard field sobriety tests. They may ask you to follow their finger or a pen with your eyes. They also may ask you to do a walk-and-turn test or a one-leg stand test. Know that these tests are designed for you to perform poorly on, as officers are looking for “clues” of impairment. While officers may request that you perform a series of field sobriety tests after being stopped, you can refuse testing of any kind as long as you make sure to stop, follow all lawful orders, such as turning off your vehicle and stepping outside if instructed, and provide law enforcement with your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. After you are arrested for DUI, an officer will likely request that you provide a breathalyzer test. This machine is much larger than the PBT and is typically found at the jail or police station. The result of this test may be used against you at trial.

The Right To Refuse a Search

In most cases, you have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle during a traffic stop as well, unless the officer has probable cause to believe you are involved in criminal activity or another exception applies. It’s important to know that refusing a search does not imply guilt or give the officer the right to conduct a search without your consent. Politely assert your rights and request clarification if the officer insists on searching your vehicle.

The Right to an Attorney

Before answering any questions or signing any statements, it’s imperative you contact a criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the process. Even if you are innocent, it’s in your best interest to first speak with an attorney, as it is your constitutional right. In the case that you are arrested, you are given the right to call a lawyer without authorities listening. Remember to communicate your wishes calmly and respectfully to ensure the process moves as smoothly as possible and you can receive the representation you deserve.

Have You Been Accused?

If you believe your traffic stop rights have been infringed upon, we encourage you to contact the McConnell Law Firm as soon as possible. While every case is different, and no conclusions should be drawn without first consulting a Wichita criminal defense lawyer about the specifics of your case, it is always in your best interest to have a skilled attorney by your side from the beginning.

Request a Free Consultation

Do you or a loved one need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Wichita? We encourage you to contact the McConnell Law Firm at (316) 243-5903 for a free consultation.

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Understanding Your Traffic Stop Rights | Criminal Defense Lawyer, Wichita, KS

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Jonathan W. McConnell and his team have become well-known for their expert knowledge and unmatched tenacity. They have been rated highly by the public and their peers on many prestigious legal directories and professional organizations.