Know Your Rights: How to Handle Your Next Police Roadblock

The first and most important thing to remember when you are confronted by a “checkpoint” or a police roadblock is that your rights are not diminished in any way by the roadblock itself or the reason for it.

You need to know your rights and exercise them fully whenever possible.

Your Right to be Secure

Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, absent probable cause, no police officer may search you, your vehicle or your belongings without permission. If asked, you should always refuse to authorize a search. In most cases, the officer will abandon the idea if you assert your rights directly and refuse to budge.

Recognize Lawful Orders

Failure to follow the lawful orders of a police officer can get you cited or arrested. Know when and where to be firm and when to be reasonable. There is no point in starting a fight if it isn’t necessary.

Exiting the Vehicle

If you are asked to step out of the car, secure the brake and transmission, turn the vehicle off, roll up the windows, step out and then lock the vehicle before you close the door. Put the keys in your pocket. This does several things. One, if the keys are in your pocket, they can’t be retrieved without a lawful search of your person. Second, in order to get in to the car, the officer will have to “break in” which is likely to be frowned on by the courts. Third, a locked car can’t be casually searched easily.

Be Careful About Questions

Police officers have a variety of ruses they can use to snare you in conversation. Questions like “do you know why I stopped you” and so forth are designed to elicit grounds to detain you. By and large, you should politely refuse to engage in conversation. The officer is not your friend. They are looking for a reason to cite or arrest you. 90% of the time that reason will come right out of your mouth.

Leave Early

As early in the conversation as is reasonable, you should ask the officer if you are being detained. If you are being detained, the officer must have legal grounds to do so. If not, the officer cannot force you to remain at the scene of either a traffic stop or a roadblock. Ask for your license and belongings back and leave at your earliest convenience (with their permission).

If You Are Cited

Under no circumstances say anything to the officer about your case. Simply sign the ticket and leave. If you announce you plan to fight the ticket, the chances of the officer showing up for the hearing will be much higher. Let them forget about it, then show up unannounced. Chances are good the officer will fail to appear, and that gets you a dismissed ticket.

If You Are Arrested

Do what your attorney will advise you to do: exercise your right to remain silent and immediately ask for a lawyer. Do not answer any questions under any circumstances. Do as you’re told and wait for your DUI lawyer Lee Webb in Athens or another attorney in your particular locale. If you respond to an interrogation, the chances of you incriminating yourself increase dramatically.

Police roadblocks don’t have to be difficult. Know your rights, keep your cool and pay attention. The more you know about the process, the more likely you’ll be able to just drive on.