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Knowing your rights during traffic stops can make a significant difference in how the stop ends. In fact, it could be the difference between receiving a ticket for a traffic violation and being arrested for DUI.

This is why it can be so helpful to know what your options are during a traffic stop and what the police often look for when speaking with a driver. It may also be helpful to understand more about what police are allowed to do and what they cannot do during a roadside stop.

Police have the legal authority to pull you over and question you in New York if:

  • They have observed you committing a traffic violation
  • They are performing a DUI checkpoint
  • They have reasonable suspicion of you being involved with a crime

During any stop, it can be crucial to remain cooperative  and calm to avoid arousing any sort of suspicion that could be used as grounds for further investigation.

The police have been trained to ask questions in a conversational manner in an attempt to gain further information. Police may also try to insinuate that not consenting to a search may lead to more trouble for you. Giving them permission, however, can only guarantee their right to a search. If you do not wish to have your vehicle searched, for whatever reason, you can decline.

You can also ask "Am I free to go?" or "Am I being detained?" once you feel that you have performed your legal obligations. A police officer may respond unpleasantly to this inquiry, but they must also have a legitimate reason for keeping you from leaving.

Generally, you have to be under reasonable suspicion of committing a crime in order to be detained. Even then, the detention should not exceed the duration required to fulfill the officer's duties. An indefinite or unreasonable duration does not have a set legal definition, but can potentially be argued based on circumstance.

If the officer who has stopped you says he is detaining you, you are not required to answer his questions without consulting a lawyer first.

What this post should illustrate is how complicated traffic stops can be, and how officers generally have the upper hand when it comes to understanding traffic stop and DUI laws. Consulting an attorney can be a way to level the playing field and defend yourself against charges.

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