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Protecting Your Rights During a Traffic Stop

 Posted on March 21, 2019 in Traffic Violations

Protecting Your Rights During a Traffic StopWhen a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop, a million thoughts may be racing through your head – and none of them are good. The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to remain calm. The officer needed to have reasonable suspicion that you violated a law in order to stop you, but that suspicion is likely limited to a traffic violation. The officer will need more evidence in order to have probable cause to arrest you. Your job during a traffic stop is to behave reasonably and not provide information that may be used against you if you are charged with a crime.

Answering Questions

Allow the police officer to do most of the talking during the stop. It is his or her responsibility to explain the reason for your stop and bring up any suspicions that he or she may have. During your interaction with the officer, you should:

  • Treat the officer with respect;
  • Talk only when the officer has asked you a direct question; and
  • Politely decline to answer any questions that may incriminate you.

Lying to a police officer could lead to additional criminal charges against you if the truth is discovered. You may raise greater suspicion by declining a question, and the officer may arrest you if he or she believes you committed a crime. However, refusing to answer a question is not an admission of guilt.

Vehicle Search

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during a traffic stop is allowing an officer to search your vehicle without probable cause or a warrant. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects you against unreasonable searches. Normally, police need to obtain a warrant to search your vehicle without your permission. The officer can forgo a warrant if he or she has probable cause to believe that you committed a crime, such as the officer seeing an illegal substance inside your vehicle. Absent either of these, you are not required to consent to a search of your vehicle.

Sobriety Tests

An officer who suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. You can and should refuse to take the test because it will potentially create evidence against you if you are charged with DUI. If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, the officer may ask you to provide a blood or breath sample to test your blood alcohol concentration. You also have the option to refuse this test, but doing so will result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

Contact an Oakbrook Terrace Criminal Defense Attorney

If any charges arise from your traffic stop, you should immediately contact a Rolling Meadows, Illinois, criminal defense lawyer at Hartsfield Law. By hearing the details of your traffic stop, we can create a strategy for your defense. To schedule a free consultation, call 312-345-1700.


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