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What are your rights during a traffic stop?

It can be incredibly overwhelming to speak with law enforcement, especially when you do not expect to interact with them. One situation you may find yourself in is a traffic stop, during which you will have to talk to a New Mexico police officer, answer questions and perhaps even submit to certain tasks. This can be daunting, and you may wonder how you can protect yourself, regardless of the specific reason for initiating the traffic stop.

It is important for each individual to have an understanding of his or her rights when interacting with law enforcement. When you know your rights, you will be in a better position from which you can protect yourself and fight back against any unfair actions from law enforcement. They must follow certain procedures during a traffic stop, and there are limits to what they can say and do to drivers pulled over for speeding, violating traffic laws or suspected intoxicated operation of a vehicle.

When can law enforcement pull you over?

Law enforcement must have a valid reason to stop a driver. They cannot stop someone just because they want to, but instead, there must be evidence that the person operating the vehicle is violating a traffic law or perhaps under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop includes swerving, driving at erratic speeds, difficulty maintaining lanes and more. When police approach your vehicle, they will likely ask you to provide certain types of information, including your license and registration. They may also ask you to submit to sobriety tests or even a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content.

During questioning by law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent. However, refusal to cooperate or submit to tests could result in a misdemeanor arrest, loss of your driver’s license and more. You also have the right to an expectation of privacy in your vehicle, but the police may sometimes have grounds to conduct a warrantless search.

Fighting for your rights

It is not easy to confront the actions of law enforcement if you believe you were treated unfairly during a suspected drunk driving traffic stop or other types of interactions with police. However, you have the right to fight back against unfair treatment and pursue a beneficial outcome to your situation. If you are unsure of your defense options, you may benefit from first seeking an assessment of your case.