Your Rights During a Traffic Stop
Have you ever heard of people getting pulled over for a minor traffic violation, only to be arrested for a crime much more severe? If you are ever pulled over for violating Pennsylvania traffic laws, here are some rights you may exercise in order to protect yourself.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
After being pulled over for violating PennDOT regulations, many lawyers advocate not answering any questions other than your name, address, or date of birth. Police officers wear microphones to record everything you say. Everything you say can be held against you, but it is fully within your right to remain silent. If you choose to exercise your right to remain silent, make sure that you calmly and respectfully state it out loud.
You Can Refuse to Consent to a Search
Unless you are being arrested, or there is a search warrant (because a police officer has probable cause to do so), you are allowed to refuse to consent to a search of your car.
If a cop sees something incriminating through your windows, this can be used as evidence for your arrest. If a cop asks you to step out of your car, he or she can look through your open driver’s door. Otherwise, a cop must have permission to search your car. Refusing to give permission is neither an admission of guilt nor a valid reason to detain you. If you choose not to allow the officer to search your car, say, “I do not consent to a search.” If a cop asks you to step out of your car, do so, but you may close and lock the driver’s door behind you.
Remember, it is not within your rights to argue or resist, even if your rights are being violated. Instead, firmly, clearly, calmly, and repeatedly say that you do not consent to a search.
Know When It Is Okay to Leave
You can be detained if the officer has a concrete reason to believe that you committed a crime, such as a violation of Pennsylvania traffic codes. If you are being detained or arrested, you are not allowed to leave. If you are being questioned, you are allowed to leave.
However, you do not have the right to drive away without permission. If a cop is not writing you a ticket for a traffic violation, politely ask, “Am I being detained or am I free to go?” You may continue to ask this throughout the encounter. By not asking, you are voluntarily staying.
You Are Entitled to a Lawyer if You Are Arrested
If you happen to be arrested in an unfortunate scenario, you still have the right to remain silent. You should ask for your lawyer immediately and choose not to answer any questions until you have spoken with your lawyer.
Understanding your basic rights when pulled over can help you avoid further trouble during any routine stop. If you do happen to be arrested or charged with a traffic violation, contact the legal team at Allegheny Attorneys At Law. Our experienced team of lawyers can help make sure that your rights are protected throughout your legal proceedings, giving your case the personalized attention and care you deserve. Call us today for a free initial consultation and let us help you!