Being pulled over by a law enforcement officer is a scary experience, regardless if you did anything wrong. Oftentimes, many of us oblige every request that is made of us when stopped, but this is a mistake. Remember, you have rights and it is important to understand them in this situation to ensure you do not put yourself at a disadvantage if charges are ultimately brought against you. Continue reading to find out more about your rights when stopped by a law enforcement officer.
You Cannot be Stopped Without Probable Cause
If a police officer stops you without probable cause, it would be considered unlawful and any of the evidence he or she collected from this unlawful stop could not be used against you. If you committed a traffic violation such as speeding, running a red light, or even driving erratically, any number of these acts would be enough for a police officer to pull you over. Pull over when it is safe to do so, but keep in mind that the sooner you stop, the better. Otherwise, the law enforcement officer might try to look for extra infractions.
You Can Refuse to Perform Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). If the officer who pulled you over believes you are intoxicated, he or she will likely ask you to perform these tests. However, you have a right to politely refuse this request. At this stage, you are likely to be arrested whether you perform them or not, so it is best to exercise your right to decline this request to avoid building up the prosecutor’s case against you.
If you are asked to submit to a breath test, on the other hand, you should submit to it. Refusing to do so will lead to the suspension of your license, in addition to any other penalties you might suffer if convicted of a DUI.
You Are Required to Stop at Checkpoints
Although we previously mentioned that law enforcement officers can only stop you with probable cause, the exception to this rule is sobriety checkpoints. As long as these checkpoints are planned ahead of time, do not discriminate or single out specific drivers, do not inconvenience drivers, and provide advanced notification with proper signals, they are generally considered valid and you must stop when asked.
Your Vehicle Can be Searched Without a Warrant for 5 Reasons
A cop cannot simply search your vehicle for no reason at all. You have rights. However, some of the circumstances in which a police officer can search your car without the use of a warrant include: you consented to it, the items in question are in plain view, you gave the officer probable cause, and there were exigent circumstances.
DUI Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago
If you are facing DUI charges after being pulled over by a law enforcement officer, you are going to need skilled legal representation on your side to fight back and protect your rights. At the Law Office of Steven Fine in Chicago, our skilled criminal defense attorney is backed by over 20 years of experience and a proven track record of success. You should not feel resigned to defeat. Our attorney will evaluate your case and determine all of your available legal options, so you can secure the best possible outcome for your situation.
Get started on protecting your future today and contact our law office at (312) 436-0638 to request your free initial case evaluation.