January 30, 2018

What Are Your Rights When You Are Pulled Over By The Police?

what to know when dealing with police

If you recently had an encounter with the police at a traffic stop that felt out of the ordinary for one reason or another, you may be wondering what your rights are when interacting with them. It’s not impossible for police to overstep their authority, which can cause distress on your part as well as infringement of your rights. In some cases, this may even lead to a wrongful arrest.

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Knowing your rights ahead of time can protect you from undue interference and may prevent you from complying with orders you are not legally obligated to. If you have been charged with an offense as a result of the treatment you received during a traffic stop, an attorney may even be able to get your case dismissed.

What You Need to Know When Dealing With the Police When Pull Over

Many police officers will not tell you your rights during a traffic stop, which means you’ll have to know them ahead of time to protect yourself.

1. Do You Have to Roll Down your Window for a Cop?

In the State of Nevada, you must present your identification to an officer when it is requested. NRS 483.350 states “[l]icense to be carried and surrendered upon demand” to a qualified officer. If you refuse to do so, you may be arrested, but you won’t be convicted of a crime as long as you present a driver’s license which was valid at your time of arrest. You must comply with an officer during a traffic stop, which requires you to communicate with them.

2. Do Police Have to Tell You Why They Pull You Over?

An officer cannot pull you over without probable cause, but they do not need to tell you why they pulled you over. An officer may inform you why they have pulled you over to de-escalate the situation, but they have no legal obligation to do so. However, even if you know you are in the right, an officer can pull you over so long as they believe they have probable cause to do so, even if they are mistaken.

3. Is It Legal to Record Police During a Traffic Stop?

In recent years, video recordings of officer misconduct has proven to be crucial evidence in numerous court cases, and many defendants have been declared innocent on the basis of this evidence. As a driver, you are entitled to film an officer during a traffic stop, either from your phone, a dashcam, or any other recording device. The only limitation on this right is that your recording of the interaction must not interfere with the officer’s work.

Related: When Is a Police Officer Allowed to Use Deadly Force?

4. Can a Cop Search Your Car If You Get Pulled Over?

An officer must receive your permission before conducting a search of your person or your vehicle unless they have probable cause to do so. They may be able to claim this if there are any visible open bottles or even “furtive movements” on your part, which may indicate an attempt to hide contraband. An officer may also seek out an electronic warrant, giving them the right to search your vehicle without your permission.

Related: What If the Police Find Drugs While Searching My Car?

5. How Long Can a Cop Pull You Over For?

There is no set length of time for which an officer can pull you over. Traffic stops can last anywhere from several minutes to well over an hour, but there are no restrictions so long as a judge rules in favor of an officer in court. A 2013 ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court on a traffic stop that lasted an hour made no mention of the length of time and only stated the officer had no probable cause to hold the driver.

6. Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer?

In the State of Nevada, drivers operate under the legal doctrine of implied consent, which states that driving is a privilege, not a right. Therefore, by using the privilege of driving, drivers preemptively agree to submit to any regulations imposed by the state on drivers, including sobriety tests. Drivers must submit to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test within two hours a test if they are pulled over by an officer. While you technically can refuse the breathalyzer, doing so has immediate consequences such as the seizure of your driver’s license and potential suspensions.

Read More: Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer?

know your legal rights

A traffic stop can be a stressful experience, especially if you think you have been pulled over without probable cause. However, knowing your rights ahead of time can keep you from volunteering any unnecessary information, and may keep you out of legal trouble. If you have already had an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement and feel as though your rights were infringed upon, consult with a criminal attorney as you move forward.