June 15, 2021

YOUR RIGHTS WHEN STOPPED BY POLICE

The United States Constitution outlines certain rights that you have. It’s important to be aware of and assert these rights if you are stopped by police. Using the TurnSignl app can connect you with a vetted attorney in your state who can help you through this process, but you don’t need our app to know your rights.

Some constitutional amendments that apply during police stops include:

First Amendment

Right to Record

The First Amendment grants freedom of speech and this also includes freedom of the press, which covers your right to record law enforcement interactions. This includes encounters you may observe and those you may be a part of.

Remember, there are limits to this right. You can’t interfere with the police officer’s ability to do their job and you may need to inform them that you are recording, depending on the state.

It’s important to keep your phone close to your body if you are recording on the street or mounted on your dashboard if you are in a vehicle. This helps ensure it will not be mistaken for a weapon.

The TurnSignl app will automatically record your interaction and will save the video to your personal cloud storage.

Fourth Amendment

Right to Refuse a Warrantless Search

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. If you are stopped by the police, this means they can only search your person or your vehicle under certain circumstances. If the officer suspects you have a weapon, they may pat you down for their safety.

Other situations in which the police can search you:

  • If they can establish probable cause
  • If you consent

“Probable cause” means that there is evidence of a crime. This must be based on objective facts and observations, not just a “hunch.” In the case of a traffic stop, any evidence in plain view of the officer can be used as grounds for a search.

Keep in mind, this is not limited to sight. For example, the smell of marijuana would constitute probable cause in most jurisdictions.

If you give consent, an officer can search your person or your vehicle even if there is no probable cause for them to do so. This is why it’s important to know your rights.

Some people will give consent without realizing it. The officer may not directly ask for a search and may use more casual wording such as, “Can I take a look in your trunk?” or a similar question, and may not use the term “search” at all.

Either way, you have a right to refuse a search and should politely say that you do not consent. 

If the officer searches anyway, do not resist and wait to speak to a lawyer.

Fifth Amendment

Right to Remain Silent

The Fifth Amendment protects you against self-incrimination and gives you the right to remain silent if questioned by law enforcement. This means you don’t have to answer questions about what you were doing when you were pulled over, where you were going, et cetera. 

If you wish to invoke your right to remain silent, you should explicitly invoke this right. Depending on the state, there is some information you may need to provide. In most cases, you will need to identify yourself by your full name if stopped on the street. If you’re pulled over, you’ll usually need to provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.

Sixth Amendment

Right to an Attorney

The Sixth Amendment covers rights for criminal defendants and includes the right to legal counsel. If you’re arrested, you should always be informed of your right to a lawyer. Defendants who are unable to afford an attorney will have the opportunity to have one provided to them. If you use the TurnSignl app, you’ll be able to consult with an attorney for the whole length of any traffic stop and you can contact them afterward for representation if you are charged with a crime.

Download the TurnSignl App

The TurnSignl app gives you on-demand access to attorneys in the event that you are pulled over by law enforcement or are involved in an accident. The attorney you reach will ensure your rights are protected. It is our goal to get everyone home safely.

Download TurnSignl today on iOS or Android.