What would you feel when you see the flashing red-and-blues of a police car in the rear-view mirror? Probably, you’ll get a mix of emotions. I’ve read articles with people’s experience about this and some of them felt their heart pounding as if they’ve done something terrible against the law. Well, let reality sink in that there’s a high probability that you made an offence worthy of the police officers’ attention.
As you roll down the window of your car, you might have a series of questions inside your head. One of the biggest questions is, “why am I getting pulled over?”. There are a number of reasons why you are getting pulled over. Let’s discuss it.
Keep in mind that every state has its own legislation and obligations, particularly in Australia. Thus, it is crucial to investigate the specific laws that apply to where you live.
Okay, so before you go frantic and get yourself into more trouble, it’s crucial that you are aware why you are pulled over by the police. Certainly, there are several reasons such as you committed a traffic offence like overspeeding, beating the red light, crossing double white lines, spotted not wearing a seatbelt and driving too slow.
In addition, you can also get pulled over when the police officers deem that you are driving dangerously. It can be peeling out at stoplights, swerving, and overall just erratic driving - these are all red flags. They might suspect that you are either drunk, under the influence of drugs, and any other number of things.
Equipment violations, tailgating, improper lane changes and illegal use of mobile phones are also reasons to get you pulled over.
However, not all reasons are about your violations. Since the random breath test, police can pull over a car to administer the breath alcohol exam. Again, this does not imply that you have done anything wrong before being stopped.
So now, let’s discuss your rights. It’s important that you know exactly what they are because this knowledge is invaluable when you are caught in the situation. The following rights are general in Australia, and it’s important to be across the specific legislation in your state or territory.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, especially on TV. Even Robocop uses this line and you should remember this all the time. Now, when you are stopped by police officers, you can exercise this right. Meaning, you don’t have to answer any questions, nor provide any personal information, other than your name and address.
Whenever asked about where you are going, where you are travelling from, what you are doing, or where you live, you can opt to refuse to answer it and inform the police officers.
Yes! You are entitled to a lawyer when you have made an offence. Surely, you’ve heard this countless times as well. It goes hand in hand with the right to remain silent. You have the right to a government-appointed lawyer if you cannot afford one. The lawyer will best represent you in court and handle all the legal aspects.
Police officers need your consent first prior to searching you or any of your belongings since they are not automatically given that right. They have to ask for it. Also, if they have a warrant or a specific law that allows them to do so, then they could go through with it.
On the other hand, if the police have a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying something such as a weapon, illegal drugs or graffiti instruments, then they have the power to stop you and search your things. They can even detain you for doing so.
With regards to mobile phone searches, you have the right to not give them consent to check it. It is also legal to film police in public areas as long it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.
In as much as you swear to always abide by the law and not to commit any violations, sometimes you still get stopped, especially during this pandemic. Police have powers during the lockdown, keep that in mind. Understanding your rights and knowing what to do when pulled over by police can save you from trouble.
Always keep a clear mind and don’t be rude to the police officers. Plus, do not try to stop, or resist an officer if he or she has the authority to search you. It will only worsen the situation and you’ll end up getting arrested. Most of all, with all matters of the law, if in doubt, seek professional advice.