What Are My Rights When I'm Pulled Over By a Cop?

Written by micah mcdunnigan
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What Are My Rights When I'm Pulled Over By a Cop?
If you are pulled over, you have specific rights. (Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images)

No one likes seeing flashing blue and red lights in his rear view mirror. While the police officer behind you may simply be rushing to the site of some other crime, it could also mean you might have committed a driving infraction, and you may end up paying a ticket. When you are pulled over by a cop, be mindful of your legal rights to avoid incriminating yourself.

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Officer Identification

You have the right to ask for the officer to identify himself and show his badge and identification. This information is important for two reasons: first, you want to ensure that you aren't about to become the victim of a criminal impersonating a police officer. Second, you will need this information if you feel that you were ill treated by the officer and want to file a complaint.

Not Answer Questions

When you are pulled over, be very careful of what you say. Besides providing your name, driving licence, vehicle registration and proof of insurance, you do not have to answer questions the officer directs at you. You are allowed to answer questions like "Do you know why I pulled you over" or "Do you know how fast you were going" with a simple "yes" or "no." You can also choose not to give an answer. Silence is not an admission of guilt, but the officer can use anything you say to write a ticket.

Vehicle Search

If you are pulled over by the police, they do not automatically have the right to search your car. However, if the officers have probable cause then they can. Probable cause can be established by the officers seeing something in your car through the windows, or by your actions. For example, if they see you throwing something out of your car as you are pulling over or if your actions create suspicion after they pull you over.

Admission of Guilt

When a police officer gives you a ticket for a driving infraction, it is not a summary judgment. Rather, the citation is a charge from the officer to which you can either plead "no-contest" and pay or challenge in court. As this is the case, you do not have to admit anything to the officer when you are pulled over. If he informs you that you were speeding, you can say "I see" or some other non-committal comment. You only have to acknowledge that you are being given a ticket, not that you deserve it.

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