Almost every driver in Texas has been stopped by the police at one time or another.
When it is for a traffic violation, like running a stop sign or speeding, the charges may not be serious, and after the police issue a warning or ticket you will be free to go.
However, that doesn’t mean being stopped by the police is always lawful.
Sometimes the police abuse their power and make unlawful traffic stops. That’s why it’s important to know your rights and what constitutes an unlawful traffic stop in the state Texas.
What are your rights?
The Fourth Amendment gives you the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means the police need a reason to pull you over, and to search your vehicle. If they don’t have reasonable cause to pull you over, the traffic stop could be considered unlawful and your case may be dismissed in court.
Getting out of the car. If the police ask you to get out of the car, you must obey. However, they can’t search you unless they have “reasonable cause.” And they can only frisk you if they have reason to believe you’re carrying a weapon and/or drugs.
Saying no. If the police ask you for permission to search your car, you have the right to say no. Without your permission, they will need reasonable cause or a search warrant.
Being argumentative. The police cannot arrest you simply for arguing. However, the more confrontational you are, the more likely they’ll find a reason to arrest you, so it’s usually in your best interest to be polite.
Recording. You have the right to record the interaction with the police.
Late night. Although police often assume that you’re coming from a bar if you’re driving late at night, that is not reason enough to pull you over.
Miranda rights. If you are arrested, the officer is required to read your Miranda Rights, which gives you the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself.
Why was I pulled over?
Remember that the law states the police must have reasonable cause or suspicion for pulling you over.
If you believe you were arrested after being pulled over without reasonable cause, then the courts may consider it an unlawful traffic stop and dismiss your case.
About the Author: Andrew Williams I am a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience defending people accused of wrongdoing. I am board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only ten percent of attorneys in Texas are board certified in their respective field. I practice criminal law exclusively in both state and federal court including appeals of criminal cases.