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Your Rights During A Traffic Stop: 4 Important Moments

January 9, 2023

Your rights during a traffic stop are essential information to know, and the professionals at Jeff GOULD Law want to ensure you’re prepared. The initial interactions you have with law enforcement are significant when protecting your rights during a traffic stop, including the first verbal exchanges you have with a law enforcement officer. 

An estimated 20 million motorists are pulled over by law enforcement each year in the United States, according to the Stanford Open Policing Project. This equals over 50,000 traffic stops every day. Some of these end without incident, while others get negatively compounded by individual motorists’ lack of education about their rights.

Failure to know your rights during a traffic stop can lead to unnecessary and devastating consequences!  At Jeff GOULD Lawm we understand this, and as the Attorney in YOUR Corner, we want to ensure you know your rights during a traffic stop in the State of Arizona. 

1: Reasonable Suspicion

You have rights during a traffic stop. For a law enforcement officer to pull you over, they must first have “Reasonable Suspicion,” loosely defined as a common-sense conclusion reached via apparent facts/evidence/or circumstance (it needs to be more than just an officer’s “gut instinct”).    Regarding traffic stops, this could be anything from a missing headlight to running a stop sign. Reasonable Suspicion is based on the officer’s assessment, which can under many circumstances, be subjective and/or incorrect. 

Were you pulled over without Reasonable  Suspicion? If so, then you may have legal defenses and in that case, this could violate your US Constitutional Fourth Amendment Rights, and any information or property gathered during the traffic stop should not be admissible in court as evidence against you. 

Suspicion of an unlawful stop is an important indicator that you may need legal representation, so be aware: You can invoke your Fifth Amendment right to cease answering questions and request the presence of your lawyer at any point during a traffic stop. Do so clearly and directly but remain calm and polite.

If there was a transgression against your rights during a traffic stop, it is crucial to reach out to the professionals at Jeff GOULD Law as soon as possible. We can defend you in the unfortunate circumstance you’ve been pulled over without just cause, or more importantly, it required there was no Reasonable Suspicion for stopping you. 

2: Pulling Over & Presenting ID During a Traffic Stop

It’s important to remember your rights during a traffic stop. When you see an officer behind you with their lights and/or sirens on, observe and do the following to prevent any confusion of what you are doing and why: 

  • Begin slowing down and immediately look for a safe place to pull over, using your turn signal when doing so. 
  • If no safe place is immediately available, put your hazard lights on and continue proceeding slowly, so the officer knows you are looking for a safe area to pull over.
  • Remain in the vehicle, turn the engine off but the interior lights on, roll down the window, and then keep your hands on the steering wheel.
  • Refrain from sudden movements and wait for officers to instruct you to retrieve your information. If your ID or paperwork is located in a center console, glove box, etc., let the officer know when you will access these areas.
  • Remain calm and respectful – always. 

Arizona law requires that you provide your name or identification if an officer requests, which they will ask the driver and possibly passengers to produce during a traffic stop. Although the driver of the vehicle must show an officer their ID, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, you do not have to give law enforcement any further information, unless you want to.  

If you choose to do so, it is essential to decline to provide further information to the officer calmly and politely. It is vital to know your rights during a traffic stop. Remember, anything you say, especially hasty, rude or angry comments, can be used against you later. 


3: Sobriety Tests & Searches


Remember your rights during a traffic stop. A field sobriety test (or FST) is often the first test an officer will use to determine sobriety. The result will be based on the officer’s assessment of your actions and reactions while you perform the tasks that are involved in the test, such as standing on one foot or walking in a straight line. 

Although it is within your rights during a traffic stop to decline an FST, an officer will almost always follow up by asking you to take a breath analyzer (commonly called a “breathalyzer”)and as well know to officer’s and identified their reports as the “PBT” = Preliminary Breath Test,  or even place you under arrest. 

Arizona is an implied consent state regarding sobriety tests, meaning you imply consent to a breath, urine, or blood test if you get pulled over while behind the wheel.  Although you may refuse to take the initial breathalyzer test, this will likely be followed by arrest and follow-up demands for a breath, urine, or blood test. 

If you refuse to give the officer a voluntary blood draw (which is your right) they will absolutely be taking your blood anyhow and, will first: read you ADOT/MVD Admonations (Consequences) of Lack of voluntary Implied Consent; and Officer will will advise that failure to voluntarily give blood will result in Officer getting a search warrant for your Blood; hen taking your blood; and then = you will be subject to a 1-year Driver’s’ License Suspension for Lack of Implied Consent of Blood Draw (versus only a 90 day Driver’s’ License Suspension if you Voluntarily give Implied Consent and allow them to take blood samples). 

4: Probable Cause

Law enforcement must have “probable cause” to search a vehicle without a warrant, and the reasonable suspicion used to pull you over does not equal probable cause. In order to preserve your rights during a traffic stop, an officer must reasonably believe that a crime was, is, or will be committed to justify probable cause and a subsequent search without your consent. 

You may decline law enforcement’s request to search your vehicle during a traffic stop in the State of Arizona. Although this may frustrate or agitate an officer, you are within your US Constitutional rights and can politely remind them of that fact. If the officer is persistent, they may hold you while they attempt to search your vehicle by another means, by requesting and securing a warrant for the search. 

If you refuse any search or test, understand that you’re simply exercising your rights during a traffic stop and are not being uncooperative, regardless of the officer’s reaction. Obtaining a lawyer as soon as possible may help provide best defenses of your rights in a traffic stop. 

Our highly experienced team will ensure your freedoms and rights during a traffic stop are respected, even if we have to do that AFTER an unlawful stop has already taken place!

Contact Jeff GOULD Law, the Attorney in YOUR Corner today!

DISCLAIMER: The information on this blog/site is NOT, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  It is for general informational use only. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Further, this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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7592 N. La Cholla Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85741
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