If you are ever driving a vehicle in the state of Pennsylvania and find yourself being pulled over by a police officer, you must know your rights. You must also be aware of how you should act in such a sensitive situation.
There are any number of instances that can lead to a police officer pulling you over.
Whether it’s a busted turn signal, a DUI road block or another reason entirely, there’s a better than average chance that at some point during your driving career, the police will eventually find a reason to pull you over, regardless of how good of a driver you are.
Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind if you’re ever pulled over by police in PA:
If You’re Under the Influence
If a police officer pulls you over and you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you do not have to admit that you are inebriated. Instead, your focus should be on avoiding self incrimination.
Be friendly and polite with the officer, but remain as quiet as possible. If the officer presses you on your mental state, you can repeat this phrase: “Officer, I choose to remain silent”.
You should present your license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration when prompted by the officer. Do not, however, provide any information that will serve as evidence against you.
If You’re Asked to Submit to a DUI Test
If the officer asks if you’re willing to submit to a DUI road test, you do not have to participate. Police officers often administer DUI tests incorrectly and falsely arrest many individuals as a result. If the officer administers the DUI test in a flawed manner, it can still be used as evidence against you. So be aware that these tests are completely optional.
Oftentimes, the most prudent decision is to politely refuse the test. Refusing gives the officer less data to justify an arrest. He might not have a good enough reason to detain you at all.
An officer may also ask you to engage in a portable breath test. You must be aware that this test is also voluntary, and is not always precise. These devices have been shown to create false positives.
If you do not perform a portable breath test upon request, you will not be charged with a refusal. If a jury is ever involved, they won’t know about your refusal either. The officer may take you to the police station or a hospital for a complete breath test or blood test. You have the right to refuse these tests.
However, if you do refuse them you will automatically lose your driver’s license for one year on top of any suspension you will get should you be convicted of DUI. You must also be aware that you can be convicted of DUI even without these tests.
If an Officer Asks to Search Your Vehicle
If an officer asks to search your car, ask him for probable cause. If he fails to provide an adequate reason that explains why there is probably cause to search the vehicle, refuse his request. Even if you have nothing illegal in your car, someone else who was in your car recently may have left something illegal behind.
Take mental notes as you speak with the police officer and as soon as you have a moment, write down everything that happened. Write down who you were with that night, what you had to drink, where you were pulled over, what time the incident took place, and a detailed dialogue of everything said between you and the police officer.
Always Remain Calm and Polite
In a nutshell, you should do everything possible to quell the drama of the situation. If you are pulled over at night, keep your seat belt buckled and your hands on the wheel, and turn on your vehicle’s interior dome light as well.
Be friendly, don’t make sudden movements, and try to cooperate to the best of your ability. However, don’t hand over any documents aside from your license, registration and proof of insurance.
Never admit guilt. That’s why our judicial system employs judges and juries. Although you might feel violated as a result of being pulled over, you’ll have your chance at justice in due time.
If you require legal assistance after an encounter with law enforcement, contact the driving defense attorney experts at Penglase & Benson.