When you are pulled over by police for a routine traffic violation, you will of course be a bit nervous. Even if you think you did little if anything wrong, the sight of a police officer at your car can be unnerving. However, it is critical that you remember you do still have a number of rights you can exercise when facing these situations. In doing so, you may be protecting yourself from possible illegal activities an officer may perform, which would be in direct violation of your civil rights. To ensure you know what to do in these situations, here are four rights you should always keep in mind when pulled over by police.
No Search of Your Car
If you have been pulled over for a routine traffic violation and the officer asks to search your car, you have the right to refuse this request. To search your car, police need either probable cause or a search warrant.
Recording Your Traffic Stop
Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you as the driver have the right to record your traffic stop on video. If you do, expect police to tell you this is not allowed, which isn’t true. So long as you are not interfering with the officer’s duties, you can continue recording the encounter. If an officer takes your cell phone away from you or arrests you for recording the traffic stop, hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Refuse to Answer Questions
Other than providing an officer with your driver’s license and vehicle registration, you are not obligated to answer any of their questions. For example, if they ask you where you have been or where you are going, you are not required to answer. While you should try to be as polite and cooperative as possible, remember to protect your constitutional rights as well.
Reasonable Length of Detention
Since you have only been pulled over for a routine traffic violation, this means you should not be kept at detention by the officer for an extended period of time. In most cases, 30 minutes is more than enough time for an officer to run a records check, speak to you about the stop, and issue a ticket if necessary. If you are detained longer than 30 minutes, start asking why this is happening.
Though you may feel intimidated when dealing with police, always remember the U.S. Constitution is there to protect you in these situations. Thus, use it to your advantage.
Author information: Anica Oaks is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.