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Understanding your constitutional rights during a traffic stop

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Criminal Law

One of the reasons so many people face criminal charges after traffic stops is that not enough people know their constitutional rights. Two key Amendments that can help drivers during traffic stops are the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

If you’re ever stopped by the police, it can help to know your constitutional rights. 

What are your Fourth Amendment rights?

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. In other words, the police can’t search a person, home or vehicle or arrest someone without having reason to do so. There are a few scenarios where the police can search a person’s car. Here’s what you should know:

  • A driver permitted the police to search their vehicle. 
  • The police have a warrant that would allow them to search a vehicle. 
  • The police have reasons to believe that a crime was committed. 

Without any of the above reasons, the police may not legally search a vehicle. If the police do illegally search a vehicle, evidence may be inadmissible. 

What are your Fifth Amendment rights?

One of the ways the police gather evidence against drivers is by asking questions. For example, the police may ask a driver if they knew how fast they were driving, if they have been drinking or if they are carrying any illegal substances with them. Most drivers would, if they don’t believe they’ve committed any crimes, answer any questions by the police. However, sharing too much with police can lead to criminal charges. 

The Fifth Amendment gives people protection against self-incriminating comments. A self-incriminating comment is something said that might suggest someone was involved in a crime. Drivers can plead the Fifth when talking to the police to avoid making self-incriminating comments. This also benefits people who believe they have not committed any crimes but fear a minor comment could lead to criminal charges.

If you believe your constitutional rights were violated during a traffic stop, you may need to reach out for legal help to understand your defense options.