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How to protect your legal rights during a traffic stop

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense

You’ve likely heard what it’s like to be pulled over by the police. You may have even been pulled over by the police once before. Many drivers feel anxious and upset when the police stop them. It’s not a pleasant experience. 

Something that could benefit you if you are stopped by the police is to understand your legal rights. You may not feel any less anxious, but you can protect your rights to ensure that the police are conducting a lawful investigation. Here’s what you should know:

You don’t need to answer questions

The police frequently begin an investigation by asking drivers questions. These questions are used to gather evidence and to see whether a driver will slip and admit to violating traffic laws. Under the Fifth Amendment, you are not obligated to answer questions even if the police insist that you must. The Fifth Amendment protects you from saying something that would be self-incriminating. Saying that you “plead the Fifth” can also show the police that you are willing to cooperate, but will not make any further statements. 

You don’t always have to let the police search your vehicle

The police can also gather evidence by searching vehicles. Under the Fourth Amendment, the police cannot search your vehicle unless they have a warrant or they’ve made a lawful arrest. You could also give the police permission to search your vehicle. But, it’s likely in your best interests to avoid doing so even if you know they won’t find anything. 

You may need to learn about your legal options if you believe your rights were violated during a traffic stop. Allowing law enforcement to get away with violating your rights could lead to others having the same experience.