There are rights during a traffic stop that can help you get out of a sticky situation with your future in-tact. Some of these rights are so useful to you and your future that it can make things considerably more challenging for a police officer when they stop you.
While cops aren’t all bad guys, almost anyone will jump at an opportunity to simplify things. And if, during a traffic stop, you gladly give up some of your rights, you’ve just simplified things for the officer.
Here are 4 important rights police don’t want you to know about during a traffic stop.
What are my rights during a traffic stop in Texas?
It can only help if you know what to do when pulled over by the police — this includes knowing what your rights during a traffic stop are and what they are not. Knowing this simple information can help you overcome charges and maintain your freedom.
Right #1: Your vehicle is your vehicle
As guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In other words, police officers aren’t allowed to search your vehicle just because they pulled you over.
What makes this right one of your more confusing rights during a traffic stop is that your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures often only goes so far. As soon as the officer attains probable cause, then they have every right to search your vehicle. For more information on what constitutes probable cause, check out or article: Probable Cause for DWI Arrest.
Your vehicle is your vehicle, but what about your right to stay in your car during a traffic stop? If stopped by the police, do you have to get out of your car?
When a police officer pulls you over, they expect you to stay in your vehicle with your hands placed visibly on the steering wheel as part of standard pull-over procedure. Once they approach your vehicle and you roll down your window, they may ask you to step out of the car. If they do so, you are required by law to comply. Staying in your car during a traffic stop is not one of your rights during a traffic stop.
Right #2: You can keep your mouth shut
That’s right, one of your rights during a traffic stop is your right to keep your claptrap sealed. And we highly recommend invoking this right — which just so happens to be part of the Fifth Amendment.
The only information you need to provide to a police officer during a traffic stop is your driver’s license, insurance, and registration. If you’re pulled over by a police officer and they start asking you things about where you’ve been, how much you’ve had to drink, and where you’re going, you don’t have to answer. And you shouldn’t answer.
Refusing to answer an officer is not a crime, and you can’t be arrested for it. In fact, when you choose to answer police officers, it’s actually far more likely that you will be arrested and that anything you say will come back to bite you in court.
Police officers tend to ask these questions to get you to incriminate yourself. For example, they might ask you how much you had to drink. You may think it’s okay to answer truthfully by saying that you “only” had a few drinks. Unfortunately, this “only” doesn’t mean much to an officer, and they’ll use it as probable cause to arrest you.
This is one of the most important rights during a traffic stop to remember. Don’t be tricked by the police. Remain silent if you can.
Right #3: You can argue (if you want and if you’re careful)
It’s not a crime to calmly argue with the police officer. If the police officer tells you that you need to answer the question and you need to stop arguing with them, this is just their request, not a demand.
However, you need to be extra careful if you can’t keep quiet and decide to argue back and forth with the officer. If you take things too far, you can be arrested for disorderly conduct. And keep in mind: During an argument, you’re more likely to incriminate yourself. This can be dangerous for you later down the line in court.
Frankly, that’s why this isn’t our favorite right during a traffic stop to remind our clients of. But it is still your right. Just be very, very careful.
FAQ: Should I argue if asked to take a BAC test during a traffic stop? Actually, you may not want to try to argue your way out of this one. Not only is refusing to take a breath test a breach of implied consent laws, doing so may not actually help your case, even if you are DWI. Here’s why “do not blow” is bad advice.
Right #4: You can record the traffic stop
Recording a traffic stop can help you immensely in court. It’s also a possibility that the officer will feel more inclined to strictly adhere to the proper police pull over procedure (which can only help you even more). “Smile, you’re on camera” is just another way of saying, “Don’t do anything you’re not supposed to do.”
But just as with any other right you have during a traffic stop, you’ll want to record with caution. If you don’t let the officer know you’re about to pull out a camera, they might think you’re pulling out a weapon. So be very careful and make sure you inform the officer that you’re pulling out a phone or camera to record the incident.
Here’s another important tip to keep in mind: just as a recording can be used to help you in court … it can also be used to hurt you in court. This being said, if you’re doing something illegal or if you’re acting erratically or confrontational, you probably don’t want to record yourself doing it.
Were your rights violated during a traffic stop? We can help.
Mark Thiessen of Thiessen Law Firm is a Board-Certified DWI Specialist and Board-Certified Criminal Lawyer. With over 100 Not Guilty verdicts and thousands of dismissals under his belt, Mark can help you combat charges brought during an unlawful traffic stop.
If you need help fighting back, don’t wait. Give us a call today at 713-864-9000 or fill out our online contact form to get started.
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- Pretrial Diversion vs. Deferred Adjudication in Texas