Being pulled over can send your mind racing with anxiety-inducing possibilities. You might wonder if you are violating some law, or if you might say something wrong that makes you look guilty.
Protecting yourself and conducting yourself appropriately during a traffic stop is a simple matter of knowing your rights. By knowing what rights New Jersey law enforcement officials have an obligation to uphold, you can handle a traffic stop situation with confidence and take action against an officer who does not honor those rights.
The right to certain requests
The New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety addresses a number of concerns citizens may have regarding traffic stops and explains your right to make certain requests. After presenting your credentials to the officer at the scene, you are free to ask the purpose of the stop, request the presence of a supervisor or request the officer’s name and badge number. Failure to respond adequately to these requests might be relevant if an illegal search and seizure occurs during the stop.
The right to remain silent
Beyond providing your own name, you have the right to remain silent in the presence of a police officer until you have a lawyer to advise you. Exercising this right can make you seem guilty or uncooperative, but it might be in your best interest if you think that an officer is trying to pin a crime on you. Staying silent also eliminates the chance that you might slip up and give consent for an officer to search your vehicle.
Some traffic stops are routine matters or a case of mistaken identity. However, other traffic stops might come with the risk that an officer will cast suspicion upon you. These are the most important times to know and exercise your rights.