Powerful Advocacy,  Investigation, Negotiation, and Litigation

Your rights when stopped by law enforcement

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2020 | Criminal Law |

It is rarely a good thing to see flashing lights in your rearview mirror and have to pull over. Regardless of the reason, you probably will feel uncomfortable and nervous. You may not understand your rights or even be clear on why the officer stopped you. In addition, you may wonder what reason he or she had to pull you over. 

According to the Montana Code Annotate 2019, the whole process of pulling you over and everything that happens after depends on whether the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have done or are doing something illegal. However, you still have rights, and the law outlines exactly what actions the officer can take. 

Providing you information 

In most cases, an officer must tell you right away why he or she pulled you over. The only exception is if there are extenuating circumstances where safety is a concern. At that point, the officer is likely to give you instructions on what to do instead. 

In addition, if the officer is not in uniform, then he or she must let you know that he or she is an officer. Police must do this prior to questioning you. 

Taking action 

The officer has the right to check your body for any dangerous items. He or she may confiscate anything illegal or dangerous. If the officer does not arrest you, then he or she must give you back your items, as long as they are legal, at the end of the stop. 

Police also have the right to request your name and address. They can also ask you to explain what you are or were doing that gave them cause to stop you. An officer may also request your proof of insurance, vehicle registration and driver’s license. 

A traffic stop is an investigation where police officers gather information to determine what steps to take next. If you broke the law, you may get a ticket or end up under arrest.