Can I Refuse to Show My Driver’s License if I Believe I was Subject to an Illegal Traffic Stop?
Being pulled over by the police, especially if you believe you were not violating any traffic laws, can be a frustrating experience. A traffic stop can last from a few minutes to several hours and can result in being held in police custody as well as criminal charges.
Though tensions may run high during a traffic stop, it is important to not only know your rights, but to also follow California law.
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge as a result of a traffic stop, it is critical to have an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney who will fight to protect you in court.
California’s “Stop and Identify” Law
In the state of California, you do not have to carry an identification card or driver’s license in a public place unless you are in a secure location (like an airport) or if you are behind the wheel of an automobile. However, a police officer can stop you if he or she has a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or if he or she has probable cause for an arrest.
“Probable cause” is a reasonable belief that something illegal is or was taking place. Examples of probable cause include the sight of drugs or alcohol on your person in plain view, the smell of drugs or alcohol or if you admitted guilt to a crime.
California’s “Stop and Identify” Law Behind the Wheel
If the state of California, you must show your driver’s license to a police officer if you are driving a vehicle and are pulled over for a traffic stop. It does not matter if you feel if you were pulled over by the police unjustly. Under California law, you are required to provide the police officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance and car registration if you are pulled over by the police.
Assert Your Rights
Though you are required to show your driver’s license to the police when you are pulled over, you can refuse other police officer requests. They include:
You do not have to answer an officer’s questions: If a police officer asks you a question, you do not have to answer it. You should not lie or admit guilt. However, you can exercise your 5th amendment right against self-incrimination by simply replying, “I prefer not to answer.”
You can refuse a sobriety test: Unless you are on probation for a past DUI conviction or are under the age of 21, you do not have to submit to field sobriety test nor a chemical alcohol test (also known as a preliminary alcohol screening or “PAS” test). You can politely decline a field or chemical test and state why by saying, “it is not required under California law.”
You do not have to consent to a search of your car: You do not have to consent to a search of your car by police. By simply stating, “Officer, I do not consent to this search,” you exercise your Fourth Amendment right to refuse search requests.
No matter what the circumstances are when you are encountered by law enforcement, it is important to remain calm and be polite to the officer. Do not show hostility or ask the police officer why he or she pulled you over. If you feel a police officer has pulled you over and then searched your car illegally or the officer did not have probable cause to question you, it is important to call an experienced attorney who will review your case and fight the charges against you.
Call the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge as a result of a traffic stop, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience in successfully defending persons charged with crimes after a traffic stop. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.