All motorists in South Carolina have access to certain rights when pulled over by the police. Accordingly, an awareness of your rights is imperative to ensure they are being preserved by law enforcement during traffic stops. This information will also help you identify if an officer is behaving in an unlawful manner, which may call for legal action.
Business Insider lists a few of the essential rights you have when pulled over by the police. For instance, in most circumstances any searches of your vehicle must be accompanied by a search warrant. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as having drugs or other contraband in plain view. An officer can also search your vehicle if he or she believes you are in the process of destroying evidence (known as “exigent circumstances”), or if you’re being arrested with probable cause.
Probable cause must also be evident for the traffic stop to occur in the first place. This means that the law enforcement official who’s pulled you over must have reason to suspect wrongdoing. These reasons can range from a traffic infraction (such as speeding or erratic driving) or an issue with your vehicle itself.
When you are pulled over, the officer may ask you to get out of your vehicle as a safety precaution. While it is fully within your rights to refuse, in most cases it’s recommended that you comply with the officer’s request. The same can be said of refusing a breathalyzer; while it’s within your rights to do so, you may run the risk of losing your license even if you’ve committed no crime. Additionally, if there is a reasonable suspicion of drug use, the officer can demand drug testing to be performed at the police station.