What Can Law Enforcement Do During Traffic Stops?

Categories: Criminal Defense

traffic stop

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Defending Colorado Drivers after a Traffic Stop Arrest

Being pulled over by the police is not something you expect to happen every day or even once in your lifetime. However, if you are pulled over, it is important to know your rights and what law enforcement can or cannot do during those traffic stops.

Your civil rights might seem like a vague concept, but they are critical in a traffic stop. In fact, traffic stops are one of the most common situations where Americans have their civil rights violated – and most don’t even know it happened.

Essential Rights You Must Know During a Traffic Stop

To understand what officers can and cannot do, you must know your rights and how those rights restrict police actions.

  • You do not have to consent to a vehicle search. During a traffic stop, if the officer asks to search your car, you do not have to consent. They are asking because they do not have a warrant or probable cause to justify a search without your consent. Naturally, there is no reason to be rude when you tell the officer, but you can kindly decline.
  • Officers cannot stop you from recording your traffic stop. You have the right to record a traffic stop, just as the officer has the right to record the same events via the dashboard. Remember, you have the right to film, but you cannot interfere with the police’s procedures. If you interfere with any investigation, then they have the right to confiscate your phone or camera.
  • Officers cannot detain you on the side of the road for unreasonable amounts of time. Just as you have the right to deny a search, you also do not have to be detained for an unreasonable length. Though the law does not specify what is “reasonable,” the officer cannot detain you on the side of the road indefinitely. Usually, a traffic stop will last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you can record the event and inquire as to what is taking the officer so long.
  • Officers can ask questions, but you do not have to answer them. It is important to note that the officer has the right to ask questions, but you equally have the right not to answer. The classic question of why they pulled you over is most likely to come up, but if you cooperate and do not answer anything that might incriminate yourself, you do not have to respond to questions.
  • Officers must give you their information. If you have any issues or are just doing your due diligence, you have the right to ask the officer for his or her badge number, name, and the citation number.

Arrested During a Traffic Stop? Speak with an Attorney Today

If you or a loved one was arrested during a traffic stop, you must contact a criminal defense attorney. The laws and protocols in place for law enforcement protect evidence, but when an officer fails to follow protocol, you may have a viable defense strategy.

To explore your options, contact Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. today at 970-704-0888 or request further information online.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.