What Are My Rights During A Traffic Stop?
Being stopped by the police while you are driving can be unnerving and disorienting, especially if you have any concerns about your personal safety or about the legality of the stop. However, it is important to remember that you do have key rights under federal and state law, along with responsibilities under Texas law, as well. What are your rights, and what must you do when you are pulled over for a traffic stop? And how do those rights and responsibilities change if you are arrested? Consider some of the following information from our Temple criminal defense attorneys.
Your Right to Remain Silent
You do have the right to remain silent during a traffic stop in Texas. You are not required by law to provide the police with information about your travel plans, or information about where you have been recently in your vehicle.
However, it is critical to understand that Texas, along with other states, can require you by law to provide the police officer who has stopped you with your driver’s license. Indeed, the Texas Transportation Code requires a motorist to show proof of a valid driver’s license. Beyond this, at the initial stage of a stop, you are not required to provide additional information or to answer any additional questions under the law.
You Have the Right to Decline a Search
If you are stopped and the police ask if they can search your vehicle. You have the right to decline. However, even if the police then move to conduct a search on your vehicle—lawfully or unlawfully—you cannot interfere with the search. Under the Texas Penal Code, you could face Class A misdemeanor charges if you intentionally prevent or obstruct a police officer from effecting a search, even if the search is unlawful.
You Must Provide Certain Information Upon Arrest
If you are arrested, you still have the right to remain silent, and you also have the right to an attorney. However, once you are arrested, Texas state law requires you to provide certain information to the police when asked. A violation of the law in these circumstances is known as a “failure to identify,” and it can result in anywhere from Class C to Class A misdemeanor charges depending upon the circumstances. To be clear, the only information that the “failure to identify” law can require you to provide is:
- Your name;
- Your residence address; and
- Your date of birth.
The law does not require you to provide any additional information to the police. As such, you are not required to answer any questions about who you live with at your address, where you have been recently, where you were born, your race or ethnicity, or any information beyond the above three bullet-point details.
Contact a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Whether you have questions about your rights or need assistance building a defense after you were arrested during a traffic stop, one of the experienced Temple traffic defense lawyers at The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC can assist you and can provide you with more information about how Texas law applies to your case.