What Are Your Rights During a Traffic Stop?
No matter how good of a driver you are, chances are it’s happened to you: That moment of dread when you see a police car in your rearview mirror and realize that you are the one they want to pull over. As uncomfortable and frightening as this moment can be, you should understand that you are entitled to certain rights and protections during a traffic stop. If these rights are violated, you may be able to dismiss criminal charges against you. Knowing these rights — and knowing how to ensure that these rights are protected — can be critical to ensuring that you are treated fairly during a traffic stop.
Silence May Be an Option
There is a reason that you always hear about your right to remain silent. If you are pulled over, you have the right to remain silent, as does your passenger. You do not have to answer any questions at the scene. However, don’t confuse silence for non-compliance. You should listen to all commands from the police and supply identification information upon request. You should also keep your hands visible at all times, and inform the police before reaching for any documents. For the safety of both you and the officer, move slowly at all times, and make no sudden movements.
What to Do if You Are Arrested
If you are arrested for a crime, contact a lawyer immediately. Do not consent to an interrogation or sign any paperwork without a lawyer present. As someone who has been arrested, you will be entitled to a phone call. Use that call to either call an attorney or connect with a family member or friend who can do that for you. Do not answer any questions without having an attorney present.
Keep in mind: If you call an attorney, the police cannot listen to your phone call. However, they can listen to any calls you make to anyone else.
As best as you can, try to remember the names, badge numbers, and faces of any officers you interact with — particularly if you believe that your rights are being violated. This information may be important during a trial.
Rights of a Passenger
Passengers also have certain rights if the car that they are riding in is pulled over. These include:
- The right to not be held liable for the criminal conduct of the driver.
- The right to leave the scene of an individual, provided that the passenger is not under suspicion of committing a crime.
- The right to refuse search requests without a warrant.
- The right to ask questions about the nature of any detention.
- The right to decline to ask questions without a lawyer present.
What Happens If Your Rights Are Violated
Being aware of your rights in the event of a traffic stop can ensure that you advocate for yourself. Unfortunately, regardless of your own knowledge, there are instances in which the police will — intentionally or otherwise — violate your rights. If this is the case, you may be entitled to have the charges against you dismissed. Furthermore, depending on the specifics of the situation, you may be entitled to certain compensation.
If you believe that your rights have been violated and you have been accused of a crime, you should immediately connect with a competent attorney. If you are in the area of Morristown, New Jersey, Morristown criminal defense lawyer Gregg Wistosky is an excellent option to help you protect your rights. Attorney Wistosky is one of the best Morristown criminal defense lawyers available and has ample experience in dealing with cases like yours.
If you have been charged with a crime during a traffic stop, and you believe that your rights were violated, contact Gregg A. Witotsky, Esq. With decades of experience in criminal defense cases, attorney Witotsky can help you address any potential criminal charges. Visit his website or call today at 973-898-0161.