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Your Constitutional rights during traffic stops

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2023 | Rights

One of the most common times you will encounter the police is during traffic stops. You may not know what you can do if the police pull you over

You have rights under the U.S. Constitution that protect you during traffic stops. Here’s what you should know:

Your right to remain silent

Under the Fifth Amendment, you can refuse to answer any questions asked by an officer during a traffic stop. This can simply be done by stating that you wish to “plead the Fifth,” however, it’s not always necessary to say those exact words. You will likely still need to provide your license, registration and proof of insurance, but you can always tell the officer that you decline to answer any additional questions without an attorney’s guidance.

You may feel as though by pleading the Fifth then you are admitting to guilt of a crime. While the Fifth can help protect people who have committed crimes, it can greatly benefit anyone. By answering the police, you could make self-incriminating comments that may be used against you in a court of law. Many innocent people lose their licenses, go to jail or face fines because they decided to speak freely with the police.

Your right against unreasonable search and seizures 

Under the Fourth Amendment, your privacy is protected, which means you can not be unreasonably searched or seized. In other words, law enforcement can not search your car without your permission, a warrant or probable cause.

Probable cause is reasonable evidence that someone has or intends to commit a crime, which allows an officer to arrest someone or conduct a search. If a search is done illegally, then evidence collected in this manner may be suppressed. Suppressed evidence can’t be used in court. Likewise, an arrest done illegally could make it invalid. 

The police have a responsibility to maintain public order while respecting citizens’ civil rights. A police officer who violates your Constitutional rights during a traffic stop is misusing their authority. You may need to learn what you can do if you believe you’re a victim of civil rights violations.