Legal rights when pulled over

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Legal rights when pulled over

How to react when traffic officers pull you over

It’s an unpleasant prospect and a situation that most people think they will never have to encounter. However, the stark reality is that at any point in time, metro police could pull you over or stop you at a roadblock while you are driving. In these situations, it is important to know your rights and the appropriate behaviour you should adopt. Here is an outline of what you should know and how you should react.

Are you required to pull over?

Yes. According to the Automobile Association (AA), police officers in uniform have the right to stop vehicles on the road at any time and if required, you will have to provide your name, address, or any other details concerning your identity. Further, the National Road Traffic Act enables traffic officers to demand your driver’s license, which must be kept either in the vehicle or on the driver’s person or in the vehicle.

Must the officer identify themselves?

According to law, you are allowed to request that officers provide verified identification, regardless of whether they are in official uniform. As such, if you feel it is necessary, you have every right to request that they provide identification.

Can they search your vehicle?

This is no simple answer, but the answer is mostly “yes”. At roadblocks, search and seizure have been authorised beforehand, and traffic officers have the right to search your vehicle – you cannot refuse the search at any time.

Zip the Lip

You may have heard the phrase “You have the right to remain silent” uttered many times in movies and TV series – it is also a phrase that applies in real-life situations. Should your experience of being pulled over escalate to the point where you’re arrested, always remember that you have the legal right to remain silent, as any words you say may incriminate yourself.

Will you be arrested for outstanding traffic fines?

If there is no warrant of arrest, a traffic official has no authority to arrest or even detain you for an outstanding traffic fine. However, they do have the authority to serve a summons for you to appear in court at a certain date. Plus, they may be authorised to arrest you for a crime committed, possibly as a result of the search of your vehicle.

Can you refuse a breathalyser or blood test?

According to the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA), no citizen is allowed to refuse a roadside test. In fact, a test can be forcibly performed on you if you happen to be resistant.

What if you are arrested?

Should you actually be arrested, it is important to remember the following:

  • Wait for legal representation before offering any information
  • Do not be confrontational towards the arresting officer
  • Apply for bail as soon as you can

Hopefully, you can stay out of trouble with the law and enjoy the use of the open road unencumbered for many years. To protect your vehicle investment, we recommend that you install a tracking device to help prevent vehicle theft. Contact us today to learn more.

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