Whenever you’re driving, the police could pull you over. This could happen if the police have reasonable suspicion that you are committing or will commit a crime. Perhaps the police believe you ran a red light, drove above the speed limit, swerved between lanes or drove after leaving a bar.
During the traffic stop, the police will ask for your driver’s license and vehicle registration. It’s very likely that the police will follow up with a few questions. They may ask, for example where you were driving from, where you were going, if you know why you’re being pulled over or if you’ve been drinking.
When asked these questions, you may need to understand your legal rights. Here’s what you should know:
Remember your right against self-incrimination
When the police ask you questions during a traffic stop, you may believe that you’re obligated to answer them. But, under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to refuse to say anything that might incriminate yourself. In other words, you can refuse to answer any questions other than to provide your identification.
Stay polite and compliant with reasonable demands
While you can plead the Fifth, you may benefit by being somewhat cooperative with the police. If the officer asks you if you know why you were pulled over, you can simply say, “No.” Likewise, if the officer asks if you’ve been drinking, you could politely refocus the situation by asking, “Why are you stopping me, officer?” There’s little or nothing to be gained from being purposefully antagonistic.
It’s always important to be aware of your legal rights – especially if you end up facing criminal charges after a traffic stop. Don’t let a single mistake negatively affect your future without a fight.