It’s in the interests of every driver in Pennsylvania to know their rights in case law enforcement pulls them over. A traffic stop can be incredibly overwhelming and intimidating, and what a driver says and does during this interaction could be important. When you know your rights, you will have what it takes to defend them.
When you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, there is a lot on the line for you. Depending on what happens next, you could find yourself under arrest, facing criminal charges and without your driving privileges. Regardless of the details of your individual situation and the circumstances of this specific traffic stop, law enforcement must not violate your rights at any step.
During a traffic stop
If you are the driver, you have the right to remain silent. Police can ask you questions, but you are not under any obligation to incriminate yourself. It is in your interests to place your hands on the wheel, avoid sudden movements and stop the car in a safe place. If you choose to remain silent, you can simply state that intention to the police officer and ask for an attorney. It is not a requirement that you give any additional explanation.
If placed under arrest, you have the right to request legal counsel as soon as possible. You have the right to speak privately with an attorney if under arrest or charged with a crime. It is important to remember that refusal to submit to a sobriety test can result in an automatic revocation of your license.
During a traffic stop, law enforcement may ask you questions about your activities, whether you have been drinking or whether you have anything illegal in your vehicle. It is typically in your interests to avoid answering any questions that the prosecution may use against you later.
If you believe you experienced a violation of your rights at any point during a traffic stop, during an arrest or after being taken into police custody, you have the right to speak out. Evidence of a violation of personal rights could invalidate the evidence against you, undermining the entire case. This is one of the many reasons why you will find it beneficial to work with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.