There are many reasons why a law enforcement officer may pull you over. Drivers get pulled over when an officer believes that he or she has committed some traffic violation, such as speeding or changing lanes without using the turn signal.
Whatever the reason may be, drivers have certain rights when they are pulled over. All drivers need to be familiar with their statutory and constitutional rights and know what an officer is allowed to do in these situations.
The following are your rights during a traffic stop:
- You have the right to remain silent – While you must remember to be polite and courteous to the police officer, you do not have to answer every question you are asked according to the Fifth Amendment. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law. When the officer asks you, “Do you know why you’ve been pulled over?”—it is wise to remain silent. Although you may believe that you will get a less harsh penalty if you confess to your wrongdoing, actually, you will only make it worse.
- You have the right to withhold consent of a vehicle search – The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unwarranted searches and seizures by the government and its agents, such as police officers. If an officer asks to search your vehicle, you should say, “I do not consent to this search” in the most polite manner, and then ask if you are free to go. Without probable cause, law enforcement authorities need a search warrant to search your vehicle. However, once you are placed under arrest, the police have the right to search your vehicle “incident to the arrest” to look for objects related to the crime for which you were arrested.
- You can refuse to take any field sobriety tests (FSTs) – Police may ask you to perform tests “to make sure you’re okay to drive.” While it may seem like they are going to let you go, in reality, they know they are going to arrest you. Results from a field sobriety test will be used as evidence against you for a DUI charge. No one is required to submit to field sobriety testing.
- You can refuse a preliminary breath test (PBT) – Since the PBT is offered prior to an arrest, it is not considered admissible under the “search incident to arrest” exception to the Fourth Amendment. Although refusal may result in a ticket and a possible fine, it will not go on your driving record. However, if you refuse a chemical test after being arrested for a DUI, your driver’s license will automatically become suspended.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Kansas or Missouri, schedule a free consultation with our Kansas City criminal defense attorney at Rokusek Stein Law, LLC today.