Knowing Your Rights When You're Pulled Over by Police
Posted By Salvador Law Group || Feb 19, 2019
In the state of Arizona and elsewhere, many people on the road find themselves pulled over at some point. Generally, this is something that can happen at least once in your life while you are driving, even if you’re perfectly following the rules of the road and your vehicle is in tip-top shape. If a police officer pulls you over, you may be nervous, even if you know you haven’t done anything wrong and have nothing to hide.
While being pulled over by police is always a stressful situation, it’s important to remain as calm as possible. Additionally, it’s equally important to know your rights if this happens to you. There are certain facts that an Arizona criminal defense attorney would advise you of in such a situation.
Police Need Probable Cause to Pull You Over
The first thing you should know is that police cannot simply pull you over to search your vehicle or your person. They need probable cause to pull you over in the first place. Probable cause means you are either actively breaking the law or they believe they have sufficient evidence that you may be.
This can include something like a broken taillight, making a turn without first signaling, speeding, swerving, and so forth. The officer should tell you why they pulled you over immediately, but if they don’t, you have the right to ask why they did so as that is your legal right.
Pull Over Only When It Is Safe to Do So
Even when a police officer is behind you and ordering you to pull over, you should know that you don’t have to do so until it’s safe. You can gesture to the officer with a signal of your hand and stay within the speed limit. However, you should pull over sooner to avoid aggravating the officer, as it can result in receiving more than one ticket.
You Have the Right to Remain in Your Vehicle
When you do pull over, the police officer may request that you step out of your car. However, you are allowed to remain in your vehicle. Legally, you have the right to refuse to step out even if the officer wants to check to see if you may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. At the same time, it’s important to note that in refusing, the officer may become suspicious. However, this suspicion does not mean you are guilty.
You Can Remain Silent
You have the right to remain silent when pulled over. This is something a police officer also says if they arrest you, but they don’t have the right to arrest you without a reason. If you are pulled over for a routine traffic stop, you must provide the officer with your license, registration, and proof of insurance. However, remaining silent is one of your legal rights under the 5th Amendment. It ensures that you don’t incriminate yourself, whether or not you’re guilty.
You Can Refuse a Breathalyzer Test
If the officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test after pulling you over, you can legally refuse. However, you should know that Arizona is a state that has a statute called “implied consent,” which means your driver’s license can be suspended for six months if you refuse a breathalyzer test. In addition, if the officer has probable cause, they can take you back to the police station or a hospital to undergo a blood or urine test.
Don’t Allow a Search of Your Vehicle
Generally speaking, there are only two ways in which police can legally search your vehicle without a warrant: one, if you give consent and two, through plain view. If you consent to a search, the police have the right to conduct it. Plain view means that the officer notices something suspicious in plain sight. For instance, if there is a clear plastic bag containing an illicit drug in easy view, such as sitting on the dashboard, the officer can confiscate it and arrest you.
You Are Required to Stop at Checkpoints
Along with warrants, the other legal means by which police have a right to pull you over is at checkpoints. In that situation, you must pull over and answer any questions the officers pose to you. Even if they request to search your car, you are required to allow them to do so.
At the same time, if police are searching for something specific, they
are only able to search areas where that object can fit. Anywhere else
would be a violation of your rights. Law enforcement is required to notify
the public of the time and place of future DUI checkpoints. If you know
a DUI checkpoint is coming up, you have the right to avoid it, so long
as you are not breaking any driving laws.
If you are pulled over by police on suspicion of a crime, it's important to speak with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney immediately. Our seasoned criminal defense attorney at Salvador Law Group lawyer will give you essential advice and fight for your rights. With criminal charges, it’s important to act quickly. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm for aggressive representation.
Contact Salvador Law Group at (602) 842-6222 to speak with a seasoned criminal defense attorney.