Do you know your rights during a traffic stop?
A traffic stop does not have to result in a DUI charge. If a law enforcement official is pulling you over for a traffic stop, it is important to follow proper procedure and ensure your rights are protected. Below are 10 important points you should consider during a DUI stop. For detailed information on DUI law in South Carolina, consult an experienced Columbia DUI lawyer.
- Pull over safely. Erratic pull-over maneuvers may raise suspicion with a police officer. Remain calm and safely pull your car over to the side of the road.
- Remain in your car unless the officer asks you to get out. Police officers know nothing about you when they pull you over, so remaining calm and maintaining visibility helps to alleviate their concerns and suspicions. Turn off the car engine and keep your hands on the steering wheel.
- Avoid acting suspiciously or threateningly. Taking action that appears as if you are hiding or disposing of something may raise an officer's concern and prompt a search, or suggest you take a BAC test if you appear to be impaired.
- Remain compliant and follow instructions. Listen carefully to what the officer says and follow his or her instructions. Until the officer tells you that you may go, he or she is in charge of the situation. If you are unsure of what the officer is saying or requesting, ask.
- Do not volunteer information or argue. Answer the officer's questions and nothing more. If you are unsure about something the officer is saying, ask the officer for clarification. Do not assume.
- Think carefully about blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests. South Carolina has an implied consent law, which means that by obtaining a driver's license, you automatically give consent to BAC testing. If you are unsure of whether or not the roadside test an officer asks you to perform falls under implied consent, ask for clarification.
- You do not have to specify if you have been drinking. Though implied consent means you automatically consent to BAC testing, you are not required by law to answer questions that may incriminate you. For example, when an officer asks how much you have had to drink, you may remain silent or state that you do not recall.
- Law enforcement officials need probable cause to make an arrest. Probable cause can stem from suspicious behavior, volunteering incriminating information, and failed BAC tests. Minimize your chances of giving law enforcement probable cause by remaining calm and compliant, and never consent when you are not required by law.
- Remain calm. Beyond your implied consent to submit to BAC testing, you are not required to volunteer most information or perform most other actions during a traffic stop. Remaining calm through the procedure helps to ensure the process goes smoothly without giving an officer probable cause to make an arrest
- Your safety is paramount. If a situation is dangerous or makes you uncomfortable, you should look after your personal safety first. If you're unsure of whether the person is an actual police officer or any other situational issue of the traffic stop, ask to speak with a supervisor or request to follow the officer to the police station.
Safeguard Your Future and Protect Your Interests
Members of law enforcement are not required to inform you of your rights during a traffic stop. Knowing your rights and correct procedure may help in many situations, but there are times when a legal issue is unavoidable, whether from a mishandling of procedure by the officer or an individual's own personal error. In any situation, you should ensure your rights are protected.
At The Laubshire Law Firm, LLC, our legal team has more than 10 years of experience with DUI law issues. If you are seeking guidance with a legal issue or strong representation in a case, retain the Columbia DUI attorneys at our firm. Schedule a free case evaluation with us today!