Your Legal Rights During a Traffic Stop in South Carolina
The police may pull you over for various reasons. Maybe you’ve violated a traffic law or witnessed a crime and didn’t realize it. Maybe your vehicle matches the description of another vehicle that was used in a crime. Or perhaps the police think you’re in trouble and need assistance or just want to alert you to a potentially hazardous situation.
It is perfectly understandable to feel anxious, scared, or confused when the police stop you while you are driving. But you must cooperate with them and be polite to ensure your safety and protect your legal rights.
What You Should Know About Your Rights and Responsibilities During a Traffic Stop
If the police stop you while you’re driving, pull over, stay inside your vehicle, and ensure that your hands are always visible. You should also do the following:
- Ask politely why you were pulled over.
- You’re legally required to hand the officer your driver’s license, proof of auto insurance, and vehicle registration. If you must reach for these documents, inform the officer first before moving your hands.
- Don’t answer any questions beyond your identifying information because you have the right to stay silent.
- If the officer issues you a ticket, you must sign it. Doing so is not an admission of guilt; it’s just a formal acknowledgment that you received the citation.
- If the police arrest you, remain silent and ask when you can contact your South Carolina criminal defense lawyer.
The police can’t search your vehicle without your consent. However, they can legally search your vehicle without your permission if they have reason to believe that there’s evidence of any crime in your vehicle. When this happens, stay silent, remain calm, and don’t make any sudden movements. If a person holds a CWP, he or she MUST inform the officer, and provide the CWP along with other documents and inform the officer of where a weapon is located. You should also know that the police can only arrest you if you commit a crime in their presence or if they have probable cause to suspect that you’ve committed an offense. If the search leads to your arrest, you must stay silent and promptly inform the police that you want to talk to your South Carolina criminal defense lawyer before you answer any questions.
It’s also crucial to note that if the police arrest you for any traffic or criminal offense, they are legally obligated to read you your Miranda rights. If they fail to read you these rights and start asking you questions about the alleged crime you committed, you must inform your lawyer because they can request the court to suppress any statements you made, which means they can’t be used against you in court.
Get Legal Guidance From an Experienced South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you’ve been pulled over by the police and you believe that your rights were violated or if a traffic stop resulted in your arrest, reach out to the South Carolina criminal defense lawyer at The Law Office of Brad C. Richardson, LLC, right away. We can explore the legal options available to you, given the specific circumstances of your arrest. Call our office or send us an online message to schedule your case evaluation with our South Carolina criminal defense lawyer.