You could end up in a traffic stop because a police officer believes you were driving drunk. This may not happen all of the time, which can be unsettling when it does.
You have many legal rights during traffic stops, but you should be aware of when you can express your rights. Here’s what you should know:
Showing your license and registration
An officer will likely ask you to show them your license and registration. For starters, this helps the police prove you are the owner of the vehicle and that the vehicle is properly registered with the state. Then, the police may be able to get any information about your driving or criminal history.
Failing to show your license and registration may cause the officer to believe you committed a crime, which could lead to incarceration or fines.
Pleading the Fifth
The police may ask questions during the traffic stop. For example, they may ask where you were driving or if you’ve been drinking. Questions like these help the police gather evidence and determine if drivers were engaging in any criminal activities. Under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to refuse answering any questions that might lead to self-incrimination.
Refusing standardized field sobriety tests
If an officer suspects you of drinking and driving, they may ask you to perform a standardized field sobriety test (SFST). An SFST is a kind of fitness examination that might help the police spot signs of inebriation. You are not legally required to take an SFST. Being forced to do an SFST may mean your legal rights were violated.
Refusing chemical tests
Alternatively, an officer may ask you to do a chemical test. You may do a urine or blood test at a police station or hospital, but most officers carry portable breath tests that help evaluate blood alcohol content (BAC). BAC is the amount of alcohol that can be found in the body.
Unlike an SFST, refusing a breath test may lead to license suspension, fines and incarceration. That’s because every driver agrees to implied consent laws once they receive their license.
If you believe your rights were violated during a traffic stop, you may need to reach out for legal help to build a strong defense.