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Did a personal rights violation occur during your arrest?

Let's say you were driving home after an evening at your favorite restaurant with friends. You immediately notice a glare when red and blue lights begin flashing in your rear view mirror. The pit in your stomach announces your state of nervousness as you realize a police officer is pulling you over. Whether it's your first experience in a traffic stop or you've been through the process before, it's typically a highly stressful situation for any motorist.

The events that unfold from that moment on will likely vary greatly according to various details, such as what the officer's initial reason might be for making the stop. If he or she suspects you of drunk driving (perhaps because your tires touched the yellow center line a few times while you were driving on a windy road) things may get a lot more stressful before they get better.

Suspicion does not constitute guilt

The police officer pulling you over can think anything he or she wants but that does not necessarily mean the court will be convinced of the assessment if you wind up facing DUI charges. You are also protected by constitutional rights with the ability to challenge any evidence proffered in court if you believe your rights were in some way violated. The following list provides basic information regarding the arrest process and the regulations to which police officers are bound:

  • There's a difference between a traffic stop and an arrest: Don't expect a police officer to recite your Miranda rights if it's merely a traffic stop pertaining to excessive driving speed or a broken tail light. Your five Miranda rights must be explained to you if and only when you are placed under arrest.
  • If the officer doesn't allow you to leave, you are detained: Consider yourself formally detained if at any point during your traffic stop the officer tells you that you are not free to go. If he or she asks you to step out of the vehicle, it is definitely a detainment as well.
  • You do not have to answer questions: Your Fifth Amendment rights allow you to invoke silence if a police officer interrogates you without a legal representative present at the scene. You have the right to request such representation before you answer any questions beyond your basic identification information or that of your vehicle.
  • You can change your mind: If you answer a few questions then decide you do not wish to speak anymore, you may invoke your Fifth Amendment rights at any time during the arrest process.
  • The phone call home is not just in the movies: You really do get to make a phone call although this typically does not occur until after you are booked. Who you can legally call may vary, and you can contact a lawyer but you may also have the option to call a family member or friend. 

There are also many strict regulations regarding the search and seizure process; so, it's always best to pay close attention to everything a police officer says and does during a traffic stop that leads to criminal charges. It's also good to know ahead of time how to access a strong support network in case you have reason to believe there are grounds for challenging a portion or all of a case brought against you.

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Ramos Law Firm | 14500 N. Northsight Blvd, Suite 229 | Scottsdale, AZ 85260 | Phone: (480) 247-8558 | Map & Directions