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Should you go along with the police after a traffic stop?

Should you go along with the police after a traffic stop?

When it comes to interacting with the police many people are frightened and do not know what they can and can’t do. If a law enforcement officer asks them a question or to do something the default answer is typically “yes. But, do you actually have to agree with what an officer asks of you?

Whether it stems from a traffic stop, an encounter in a store or prior to a Datamaster test, there are many times where a law enforcement officer will ask for your consent. Some of the situations that require consent include: searching the interior of a car, looking through a purse or backpack, or blowing into the Datamaster machine to report a blood alcohol concentration. Simply consenting and agreeing to their search will not necessarily prevent you from receiving a ticket or being arrested, just as refusing to give your consent will not necessarily prevent you from receiving a ticket or being arrested. It is often times not in your best interest to blindly give law enforcement consent to search.

However, there are a few exceptions where you either do not have a choice but to give consent. Inevitable Discovery is a legal term that essentially means that evidence that would not typically be admissible in court can still be used by the State if it was inevitable that it would be found. A common example of this involves the discovery of drugs in a vehicle when the driver did not give consent to search the car, but the driver had a suspended license. Since the driver would not be allowed to continue to drive and would likely to be arrested due to the status of their license, a search incident to the arrest is common place, and what law enforcement finds during that search would be able to be used by the State.

Collateral consequences can result from refusing to give law enforcement your consent. The most common example of this occurs with your Implied Consent rights. These implied consent rights are read to an individual when law enforcement believes that the driver is materially and appreciably impaired and should not be driving. Prior to administering the Datamaster test, the officer must read these rights to you. When you sign your South Carolina, driver’s license you are agreeing that if you are ever suspected of a DUI, that you will consent to a Datamaster test, or have your license suspended for a period of time. That license suspension is the prime example of a collateral consequence of not consenting. However, there are avenues that the experienced staff at the Law Office of James Snell, Jr., LLC can take to assist with any possible suspension you may face.

When probable cause is present, such as an odor of marijuana or alcohol, the law enforcement officer is allowed to conduct an investigation which can include requesting field sobriety tests (which you do not have to do) or a search of the vehicle for illegal substances.

What to do when law enforcement asks to search your vehicle

  • Respectfully tell the officer that you do not consent to having your vehicle searched
  • If the officer indicates he has probable cause and is going to search anyway, do not physically resist. You can contest this in court later if necessary.
  • Continue to be respectful to the officer throughout the process
  • Do not offer any sort of statement that could implicate yourself in a crime
  • If you find yourself arrested do not give any statements to police without the presence of an attorney.

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