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What Are Your Rights if You Are Pulled Over?


It never feels good to see the red and blue flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror, signaling you to pull over. Right away, your mind begins to race. What could you have done wrong, and how will you pay for any tickets you get? However, what you may not think about are your rights as an American citizen.

Under the law, you have some protection from unintentionally incriminating yourself. If you are pulled over by the police, keep these basic rights in mind:

  • An officer must have a reason to pull you over: A police officer cannot just pull you over without probable cause. Most drug busts happen because a driver was speeding or had a broken tail light. Without a firm reason such as those, the police cannot pull you over.
  • Don’t pull over if it’s not safe: If you believe that pulling your car over on a dangerous road would put your safety at risk, you can signal to an officer that you will continue driving until you are able to go off to the side of the road in a secure spot.
  • You can refuse a Breathalyzer® test at your own risk: It’s within your rights to refuse a Breathalyzer test in Georgia; however, such a refusal violates the state’s implied consent law. Your refusal could lead to a suspension of your license and a heavy fine unless you challenge the ruling.
  • A police officer can’t search your vehicle without cause: The police do not have the right to search your car without your permission, unless an officer notices something illegal — such as a container of alcohol — in plain view. However, a police officer can begin to search without a warrant if he or she notices exigent circumstances that force the issue, such as the destruction of evidence. This situation is most common in drug stops. However, without cause, evidence or exigent circumstances, the officer has no legal right to enter your car.

To better understand your rights, call Georgia criminal defense attorneys Michael S. Brown and Kim Stephens immediately after you are pulled over.

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