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Police Pullovers: Why You Need to Know Your Rights

By Peters & Nolan, LLC on April 8, 2021

If you are driving on a public road in Colorado, a police officer can pull you over. This happens to most people sooner or later, often for something simple like a busted taillight or an expired registration sticker. Even when you have already had the experience, those flashing lights in your rearview mirror can still cause an adrenaline rush. When this happens, it is important to know that you have rights and remember what they are. Trust us, you should always protect yourself.

What Are Your Rights When Colorado Law Enforcement Pulls You Over?

If an officer pulls you over, stay calm, be respectful, but keep in mind that you have the following rights.

The Right to Pull Over Safely

You don’t have to stop immediately when you see the flashing lights. If it doesn’t feel safe to pull over right away, continue driving at the posted speed limit to an area in plain view that is secure and well-lit.

The Right to Ask Why the Officer Pulled You Over

If you don’t know why you were pulled over, you have the right to ask. Police must have probable cause for a traffic stop.

The Right to Remain In Your Vehicle

It may be best to comply, but you have the right to refuse (politely) if the officer asks you to step out of your car. Typically, this only happens when police suspect you of driving under the influence or having concealed weapons.

The Right to Refuse a Search

If the officer asks to look in your car after a traffic stop, you have the right to refuse. You are protected from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. Police need your consent or a warrant to search your vehicle or your person, with the following exceptions:

  • The officer has probable cause to arrest you.
  • Illegal materials are in plain view.
  • The officer has reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred.
  • The officer believes evidence is about to be destroyed.

The Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer or Field Sobriety Test

Colorado has implied consent laws, but you still have the right to refuse field sobriety tests if you are pulled over. However, you should know that refusing a breathalyzer could mean a six-month suspension of your driver’s license if you do. If the officer has probable cause to suspect drug or alcohol use, you will be taken to the police station for a blood test, which you cannot refuse.

The Right to Ask If You Can Go

Police cannot detain you indefinitely without arresting you. At any time after a traffic stop, you have the right to ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, then walk away.

The Right to Hear Your Miranda Rights

Before making an arrest, an officer must read you your Miranda Rights. This includes your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.

The Right to Remain Silent

This is one of your most notable Miranda Rights. If the police officer questions you, it is your right to decline to answer. Depending on the situation, it may be in your best interests to remain silent.

What Should You Do If You Are Arrested After a Traffic Stop?

If a police officer arrests you or someone you love, contact an experienced Grand Junction criminal defense lawyer at Peters & Nolan, LLC, as soon as possible. In the meantime, exercise your right to remain silent.

At Peters & Nolan, LLC, we are successful trial lawyers who have resolved thousands of cases in Colorado, including DUIs. Our attorneys have multiple certifications and know all the machines and procedures used in DUI traffic stops. We can begin planning your defense the moment you contact us. Call us at (970) 243-4357 for dedicated legal representation.


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Posted in: Criminal Defense

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Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.

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