Hopefully, you’ll go through your whole life without ever getting stopped by the police on the road. However, being pulled over is more common than a lot of people think, and no matter how careful you are there’s certainly a fair chance it can happen to you. If and when you are pulled over, it’s essential to know your rights to avoid making the new in some kind of horror story…
You Don’t Have to Pull Over Until It’s Safe to Do So
While traffic cops are out there primarily to keep us safe on the road, sometimes their actions have pushed people into some pretty dangerous maneuvers. When you see those lights in your rearview mirror, the natural inclination may be to pull over immediately, no matter what’s happening around you. However, it’s important to know that you’re totally within your rights to carry on driving until you find a safe place to pull over. Having said that, the sooner you can pull over the better. Don’t annoy the officer by dragging it out!
You Don’t (Always) Have to Take a Breathalyzer
Year after year, specialized law firms such as this one: http://www.webblawmaine.com/ represent clients who have already done a lot of damage to their case: taking a breathalyzer test when they didn’t need to. The majority of states have a statute called “implied consent”. This basically means that by getting your driver’s license, you agree to take a breathalyzer when prompted. You can still technically refuse the test, but in these states it can result in getting your license suspended for a matter of months. If the officer has reasonable suspicion that you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the protocol is slightly different. They can then take you back to the station for a blood test or other forms of analysis. Lacking that, and the implied consent statute, you’re completely within your rights to refuse to take the breathalyzer.
You Have the Right to Stay In your Car
It’s completely legal for you to stay in your car when stopped, but doing so after you’ve been asked to step out of it looks bad. Usually, police officers will ask you to “step out of the car” as a safety precaution – protecting themselves from drivers who may be carrying a concealed weapon. Having said that, it’s usually best to step out of the car to minimize the chances of a tense situation.
They Need a Warrant to Search Your Car
Unless they have a valid warrant or your consent, there are only a few situations where a police officer can search your vehicle. “Plain view” would be a case of the officer being able to see some kind of illegal substance without needing to search, and gives them the right to search the rest. Furthermore, if they have probable cause to believe you’re holding something illegal, they’ll have the right to search your whole vehicle. It’s not illegal to have blood on your knuckles, or a purse with a snapped strap on the passenger seat, but it will certainly prompt them to dig deeper!