Know Your Rights during a Traffic Stop

Seeing blue lights in your rear view mirror gives most people anxiety. Police officers need reasonable suspicion to stop and detain you, but Tennessee law also gives officers huge leeway in their “community caretaking” function when interacting with citizens. It is important to know your rights during any police encounter, especially when on the road, whether at a DUI checkpoint, or during a traffic stop.

You have the right to remain silent. If you’re pulled over, you should provide identification and proof of insurance if you have them. But remember, if the officer starts investigating you for an offense (“how much have you had to drink?”), you don’t have to answer the questions. You can always maintain the right to remain silent, but you need to state it out loud first. Don’t incriminate yourself by offering information.

You have the right to an attorney. If you are being interrogated by a police officer or detective, you have the right to not answer questions without your attorney present. You must state however that you “want an attorney before answering any questions.”

You never have to consent to a search. If an officer asks you to search your car, remember this: JUST SAY NO. You do not ever have to consent to a search. If the officer threatens you with getting a warrant, don’t be intimidated. If your car is searched without your permission, or justification under the law, the evidence can get thrown out in court.

Learn more by clicking HERE or calling the attorneys at Saenz & Maniatis, PLLC at (615) 366-1211.