Help! I'm getting pulled over.
A simple step by step guide to your legal rights when pulled over in California.
What to do when pulled over?Traffic stops by the police can be stressful and frightening. Sometimes at traffic stops, people are not treated fairly or even legally by the police. At a traffic stop, you have the right to remain silent, and you have the right to have an attorney present during any interrogation. When an officer signals for you to stop, safely pull over to the right side of the road entirely away from any traffic. If you drive in California, know your rights, so that you can use them when you need to.
Know your rights:Keep your hands in plain view on top of the steering wheel. Wait until you are asked to produce your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
As soon as it seems appropriate, politely and calmly ask the officer if you are free to go.
If you are not free to go, politely ask, “For what reason are you detaining me?”
Exercise your right to remain silent and politely say, “I choose to exercise my right to remain silent.” You cannot be arrested or detained for exercising your right to remain silent.
Do not consent to a search. The police may conduct a search anyway, but it is important to state clearly, “I do not consent to a search.”
If you are receiving a ticket, cooperate. Give the officer your name and date of birth, and sign the ticket. Your failure to cooperate regarding a ticket could get you arrested.
Do not express disrespect or attitude.
Do not try to run. Do not physically resist a “pat-down” or body search. Simply say “I do not consent to a search,” but otherwise be cooperative.
Do not tell lies to the police. Instead, simply and politely exercise your right to remain silent.
Be aware that police officers may legally lie to and to attempt to intimidate you.
If you are arrested, ask the officer if you can park your car safely or have a friend drive it away, otherwise, you will pay impound and towing fees.
Should I agree to be tested for DUI?Yes. If the police want to test you for driving under the influence (DUI), submit to the test. California law does not require you to submit to a DUI test until you are formally taken into custody (unless you are under 21 or currently on probation for DUI), but in practice, refusal to submit to DUI testing will give a police officer a reason to arrest you. Submit to the test, and your attorney can dispute the results later. In California, the refusal to submit to a DUI test after a formal arrest will lead to a one-year driver’s license suspension.