When an officer pulls you over, you are certainly in danger of receiving a ticket, or possibly even getting arrested, depending on the reasons the officer performs the stop, your behavior during the stop, and the evidence of criminal activity that the officer finds. However, it is important to remember that the officer performing the stop is not above the law and should not violate your rights in the course of your interaction.
Even in circumstances where the evidence against you is very strong, the officer must respect your rights, and violations of those rights may lead a court to throw out any charges resulting from the stop.
If you're not sure whether an officer violated your rights during a recent traffic stop, it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney who understands defending against DUI charges in Hawaii. Professional legal counsel ensures that your rights remain protected no matter what charges you face, and examines the details of your arrest to identify grounds for a strong legal defense.
Your rights during a traffic stop
Law enforcement officers have a duty to uphold the law as they do their jobs, and generally may not break the law in order to do so. Under the First Amendment, you have the right to record the interaction and hold the officer accountable for his or her actions.
Be mindful that this right should not interfere with the traffic stop, and is not an invitation to berate the officer during the stop. However, if the officer attempts to take the recording device or places you under arrest during the stop for recording the interaction, you should absolutely consult with an attorney. In many cases, this behavior violates your rights and breaks the law.
Furthermore, you do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle. If an officer asks to search your vehicle, this may mean that he or she actually needs your permission. It is rarely wise to consent to a search, and you may simply say, "I don't consent to a search of my vehicle."
Technically, you don't have to answer an officer's questions, although this may make the stop more difficult and may steer it in an undesirable direction. It is wise to use your own judgement here, or simply state that you wish to have an attorney present before you answer any more questions.
If an officer holds you for an unreasonable length of time, a court may recognize it as a violation of your rights. While there is no hard rules on what exactly constitutes "reasonable," if an officer keeps you in the stop without arresting you or letting you leave the scene for more than about 30 minutes, you should consider recording the interaction if you are not already doing so. You can then ask if you are free to go, or ask why the officer is detaining you if you are not free to go.
Get help to protect your rights
An experienced defense attorney understands that upholding your own rights helps uphold the rights of many others. Don't wait to reach out to an attorney to begin building your defense and protecting your rights as a driver.