What Rights Do I have if I am Arrested While Driving?

The law is black and white.  It’s written in a way that makes it very clear to understand what you can and cannot do.  The law is also clear when it comes to the consequences if you are convicted of a crime. If you speed, you may receive a citation and have to pay a fine. If you are caught shoplifting, you will be arrested and taken to jail. If you drive with a suspended driver’s license, you will be arrested and face a judge in court. What’s not always clear is how law enforcement officers will handle any given situation.  Officers have a tremendous amount of discretion in handling particular issues. An officer’s attitude may depend on the attitude of the person they are dealing with. The police are expected to remain polite and professional at all times, but they are still human. The way they are interacted with could greatly influence how helpful they choose to be. Over the past several weeks, The Silverbach Group has received a number of questions via our website. We thought it would be a good idea to gather some of these questions together and answer them. It’s important to remember that these answers aren’t concrete and won’t apply to every single situation. The following information will, however, give you a foundation as to what to expect if you find yourself wondering the same kinds of things. Question: I often drive alone at night in a rural area with my dog in the car. What is the best way to let an officer know that I am waiting for a safe place to pull over? What would happen to my dog if I were arrested? Answer: This is a great question. If you are in a rural area and have a police officer behind you what you shouldn’t do is just keep driving. This will most likely result in more officers showing up, and your being removed from the car forcefully. If you are being pulled over and you are waiting for a safe place to stop, the best thing you can do is call 911 and let them know. Be very specific. Tell the operator what kind of car you are driving, exactly where you are and your tag number.  Stick to the facts. No complaining or arguing. The purpose of that phone call is so the dispatcher can let the officer know what your intentions are. If you are stopped with a pet in the car, the officer will do one of two things if you are arrested. He may call animal control to come and get the pet or he may ask you if there is someone nearby who can come and get the animal for you.  The officer’s discretion is going to greatly depend on your attitude and level of cooperation. Question: If I am arrested, is there any way to contact my family without substituting my one phone call? Answer: First of all, your “one phone call” is a myth. That’s purely television fodder. Those who are arrested and taken to jail have access to telephones before being processed to contact friends and family. The exception may be if you are arrested for a very serious crime like murder or rape. In that case, your “one phone call” is also a television myth. The police don’t have to let you use the phone until they are ready to do so. They do, however, have to contact your attorney if you ask for one.  An officer may even call your family for you. That will depend on the seriousness of the situation. Question: When can the police impound my car? There are some situations when your vehicle will always be impounded. If you are cited for driving without insurance, your car will be impounded at your expense. The same is true for having suspended registration. In most other instances, if you are arrested the officer has the option to impound your car. The officer may also contact someone, with your consent, to come and get your car. That happens more often that you would think. The only catch is time. If you are arrested for driving with a suspended license and are headed to the jail, the officer may wait for a friend or family member to come and get your car to save you the impound expense. The officer will only wait for a reasonable amount of time. There isn’t a set time frame, but the police probably won’t wait for more than 15 or 20 minutes before calling a tow truck. These are just a few of the questions we have received. If you have a question you would like addressed by our experienced staff of attorneys, please email or call us. If you have been arrested and have an approaching court date, your next call should be to The Silverbach Group. You can reach us at 770-635-0334.  
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