Nobody wants to see the red and blue lights in their rearview mirror, but it happens to most people at some point. Unfortunately, many don’t understand their rights when pulled over by the cops and might give away some important legal protections without realizing it. If the police stop you, it’s vital to know when it’s in your best interests to refuse certain requests and remain silent until you have a good criminal defense attorney on your side.
The Right to Remain Silent
The questions a police officer asks might seem conversational, but keep in mind that their only purpose is to dig for information. For instance, if they pull you over for speeding, they might start looking for probable cause to conduct a search or subject you to roadside sobriety tests. Other than providing your driver’s license and insurance card when asked, you’re not required to tell the officer where you’re going, where you’re coming from, or answer any other questions.
The Right to Refuse a Search
The Fourth Amendment gives you the right to refuse a search of your person or property, so politely decline if the officer asks. However, in Pennsylvania, the police can search your vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe it contains evidence of a crime. If they decide to do so, don’t get combative or angry; let your criminal defense attorney handle it later.
The Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
Like every other state, Pennsylvania has “implied consent” laws, which carry significant penalties for refusing to take a chemical test for alcohol or drugs. However, this doesn’t mean you have to recite the alphabet, walk in a straight line, or perform any other field sobriety test. Doing it provides the officer with probable cause, so there’s no upside to going along with that request.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, the criminal defense attorneys at Bitar & Bitar, LLP, will give you the zealous representation every defendant deserves. They’ll work hard to ensure you understand your rights and will do everything possible to protect them. Follow them on Twitter for legal tips and updates, and visit their website or call (724) 339-1025 to arrange a consultation with a criminal defense attorney.