Many people warn others to avoid actions that might lead to traffic stops. But, very few people know what to do when pulled over by the police.
Here are a few answers to questions you may have about traffic stops:
1. Why would the police stop my vehicle?
The police have the right to pull over a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime is taking place or will take place. The police may have reasonable suspicion if, for example, they notice a vehicle run a red light, a driver is straddling the centerline or someone stumbled out of a bar and started their vehicle despite barely getting the car door open.
2. Can I refuse to talk to the police?
During a traffic stop, the police will ask you several questions. The police should ask for your license and registration, which you should comply with or you could suffer severe consequences. If an officer asks you questions, such as if you’ve been drinking, then you have the right to plead the Fifth. The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to reserve statements that could lead to self-incrimination.
3. What is a field sobriety test?
The police may ask to do an examination to determine whether you are sober. One way they’ll do this is by asking you to do a field sobriety test. A field sobriety test is a kind of physical examination that’s evaluated by the officer’s personal judgment. It’s important to note that you are under no legal obligation to submit to these — so think carefully before you agree.
4. How do chemical breath tests work?
Alternatively, the police may perform a chemical breath test. A breath test evaluates the blood alcohol content (BAC) in the body. The more alcohol that you consume, the higher your BAC will be. A 0.08% BAC or higher can lead to a DUI.
5. What happens if I get a DUI?
A DUI is a serious criminal charge. You could have your license suspended and you may be fined or even jailed. However, you always have a right to a defense, and it’s only prudent to explore all of your legal options.