Driver Alert: Know Your Rights at a Roadblock

Police-manned roadblocks are usually established in locations that prevent easy avoidance, offer ample parking for interrogating suspected law violators and issuing tickets. The location and timing must not cause serious traffic gridlock, although exceptions have been noted.

Roadblocks are usually legalised excuses to stop and scrutinise motorists. These excuses include sobriety checks, licence and registration verification, possession of insurance, proof of citizenship, seatbelt usage among others.

But remember you also have your rights once you enter a roadblock.
Know Your Rights at a Roadblock

A uniformed police officer has the right to stop any vehicle at any time. If you are stopped by the police, you are obliged to give your name and address, if required, and any other particulars concerning your identity. You are entitled, however, to ask such a person, whether in uniform or not, for proof of identify.

You may demand to see their identification.

The police do not have the authority to search you or your vehicle, not without probable cause that you have, or are committing a crime. They may ask your permission for a search — which means they do not have legal grounds to force a search. A male officer may not physically search a female and vice versa

When stopped in a roadblock, traffic authorities regularly try to create the impression that you have no option but to settle your fines there and then under threat of arrest. The fact is that they cannot under any circumstances arrest or detain you for an outstanding traffic fine for which there is no warrant of arrest.

Most people are so relieved to be allowed to leave after the harrowing experience of having their car ravaged that they never consider launching a civil suit against the police department. If a law enforcement official wants to arrest you, you have the responsibility not to resist arrest in any way.

If the police are persistent about searching your vehicle, you should be equally persistent in demanding that they specify what illegal item they are looking for and why they think you have it in your vehicle. If they don’t have any reason, they do not have legal grounds to even consider searching your car.

The courts allow the police to detain drivers for further interrogation, but not for indefinite lengths of time. If the police do not have defensible grounds to further detain you, they have to let you leave.

You can be required to show the usual documentation, such as your driver’s license, but you do not have to open your window any further than the space to hand it out. You do not have to answer questions about where you have been or where you are going.

You do not have to perform any feats of balance, answer quiz questions, or recite the alphabet. In fact we recommend that you respectfully decline to do any of these things. A so-called field sobriety test is conducted for one reason only — to develop probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving. — Online Sources

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