With Labor Day and the end of summer approaching, many Albany residents are likely to be heading out on the weekend to celebrate. The last thing drivers want to see after a night of relaxing with friends and having a couple of drinks is police lights in one’s rear-view mirror. While many drivers may panic and think of going faster to avoid them, they should never do this. If an officer indicates that he or she wants a driver to pull over, that is exactly what they should do.
Additionally, stopping a vehicle at a roadblock and asking questions is legal, as long as the police is using a neutral and non-inconveniencing policy to stop cars. However, as with every situation, it is also important to remember drivers have constitutional rights that need to be upheld.
Police officers may have the authority to search a driver’s car if they pulled it over. The first situation in which they would have authority is if they consent to a search. Most often, officers ask if they can search the vehicle. Its important to remember that there is no obligation to say yes-in fact, a driver can remain silent and consent cannot be implied from silence.
The next reason an officer would search someone’s car is if they have reasonable suspicion. This means if the officer believes that the driver is concealing something illegal or dangerous, he or she can search the car. The extent of the search will vary depending on the state of the driver. Lastly, the driver may be placed in the back of the patrol car and another officer comes to the scene with a warrant allowing for a thorough search of the vehicle.
It is important to know one’s rights in such situations, because an improper stop may be cause for challenging ensuing drug or DUI charges. Other drug charge defense may also be available to someone facing charges. An experienced attorney may be able to discuss the best way forward.