You may be confident about your rights during a traffic stop. However, when you see lights in your rear-view mirror, the reality of the situation may leave you wondering what you should say and when you can refuse to say anything at all. If the police officers violated your rights during the traffic stop, your Virginia criminal defense lawyer can work to challenge the evidence against you and protect your rights.
When the Police Officer Approaches Your Vehicle
When you pull over for a traffic stop, your safety and the safety of your passengers should be your first priority. Even if you have done nothing wrong or have nothing to hide, it is a good idea to turn on interior lights, roll down the window enough to pass through any documents, and keep your hands on your steering wheel or somewhere visible.
License and Registration
When the police officer approaches, the officer may ask for your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. As a driver, you are required to have this information in Virginia. If you don't have a license you may be charged with a criminal violation depending on the status of your license.
If you need to get your registration out of the glove box or ID out of a purse or wallet, it is a good idea to let the officer know where the items are and ask to get them. You can pass the requested documentation through the window.
Can the Officer Search Your Vehicle?
The police officer may ask to search your vehicle, but you do not have to give consent. They may say something like, “Do you mind if I take a quick look in your trunk?” In most cases, you may want to refuse to give consent to search. The police have to have probable cause to perform a search. However, if you give them consent, they can search without probable cause.
Even if you don't think you have anything to hide, it may be possible that someone else left something in your car, or even a previous owner had drugs or some illegal substance in the vehicle. In that case, you could be charged with a crime for something you had nothing to do with.
What if the Police Officer Does Not Follow the Rules
The police do not always follow the rules or respect an individual's constitutional rights during a traffic stop. However, it is important to remember that the time and place to fight for your rights is NOT during a traffic stop. Resisting arrest or putting up a fight will generally only make matters worse and could increase the criminal charges against you.
The police officer can make an arrest but they cannot convict you of a crime. That is for the courts to handle. If the police violated your rights, your criminal defense attorney can use that to challenge the traffic stop, the evidence gathered against you, and the arrest. An illegal traffic stop or unlawful search can even result in all charges being dropped.
Charlottesville Criminal Defense Attorney
When the police ignore your rights, your Charlottesville DUI defense lawyer can fight to make sure justice is done. The Constitution of the United States gives you the right to remain silent and to refuse to say anything that could incriminate you. If you are arrested for a DUI, talk to an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense attorney about your case and how to fight Virginia DUI charges. Contact me today for a free consultation.