A police vehicle stop can be the beginning of your perilous journey through the criminal justice system. Motorists, however, have rights that are important for a criminal defense against DUI, drug charges and other offenses.
Right to remain silent
Drivers and other vehicle occupants have the right to remain silent. Passengers may ask permission to leave. If granted, they should silently leave.
Drivers must show their license, registration and proof of insurance if requested by police. Motorists do not have to answer questions about their activities or whether they were drinking.
Reasonable actions to protect your safety
When police flash their lights or signal, stop your vehicle in a safe area as soon as possible. Turn off the ignition, partially open the window and place your hands on the steering wheel. Passenger seat occupants should place their hands on the dashboard.
Avoid making sudden movements. Keep your hands visible to the police.
What to do if you are arrested
If you are arrested or detained, stay silent and ask to speak to an attorney immediately. Do not provide explanations or excuses or say anything. You should not sign anything or make any decisions without receiving legal advice.
You may make a local phone call if you are arrested. Police cannot listen to calls made to your attorney. But they can listen in on calls made to anyone else.
Implied consent to search
A motorist suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol has agreed, by having an Alabama driver’s license, to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample to police to determine the amount of alcohol in their system. Under this implied consent law, refusal will lead to license suspension.
Motorist suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana or a controlled substance do not have to undergo chemical testing. However, police may take a blood sample to test for drug impairment if the motorist is involved in a serious injury crash.
If your rights were violated
If you believe your rights were violated, write down everything that you remember including badge and patrol car numbers, law enforcement agency and other details. You or your attorney may file a written complaint with the police internal affairs division.
If you were injured, get medical treatment immediately and photograph your injuries.
Right to record video
You may record video of the police in public areas if you do not interfere with them or hinder their movements by standing too close. Do not hide your recording activities. You must tell bystanders that you are recording them.
Police may not confiscate or demand that they watch your videos or photographs without a warrant. They cannot delete your photographs or video. An attorney can help protect your rights. They may also formulate a strategy for an effective defense.