At some point or another, you’ll inevitably be pulled over by the police, whether it’s a random police stop or they’ve pulled you over because they believe you were doing something unlawful. Not complying with the requests of the police can lead to harsher penalties, but you should have an understanding of what your rights are so you can recognise if you are being treated poorly or unjustly. Here’s what you need to know about being pulled over by the police.
- 1 Producing your driver’s licence when asked
- 2 Answering questions
- 3 Some common questions the police may ask
- 4 Can the police search my vehicle without my consent or a warrant?
- 5 Can the police search me without my consent or a warrant?
- 6 Do I legally have to do a breathalyser test if asked?
- 7 Filming the police. Can you, and should you?
- 8 Common reasons the police may pull you over
- 9 Keep in mind
- 10 When to seek legal advice
Producing your driver’s licence when asked
If you’ve been pulled over, the police will likely ask you for your driver’s licence. You must comply with this request. They are asking for it to confirm your identity and whether there are any restrictions on your licence.
It’s not uncommon for the police to ask some basic questions when they pull drivers over. You should know you are under no obligation to answer any questions from the police other than providing them with your full name, address, and date of birth. You have the right to remain silent if you choose.
Some common questions the police may ask
- Where are you going?
- Do you know why you were pulled over?
- Do you know how fast you were going?
You don’t have to answer these questions, and you are not legally obligated to do so. If you have done nothing wrong, it can sometimes be easier and quicker to answer these basic questions. Not doing so may convey guilt, and they’ll likely hold you up for longer.
Can the police search my vehicle without my consent or a warrant?
Under Sections 29 and 30 of the Police Powers Responsibilities Act (Qld), police can search your vehicle without your consent or a search warrant if they reasonably suspect criminal activity.
Here are some reasons they may conduct a search on your car:
- They suspect that the vehicle or passengers have prohibited items such as narcotics
- The vehicle has been linked or used to commit a crime
- The vehicle has items that are intended to be used to commit a crime
- Stolen or unlawfully obtained items are inside the vehicle
- The passengers or the vehicle are a risk to public safety
Can the police search me without my consent or a warrant?
Police may ask you if you give permission for them to conduct a search on you, and while you don’t have to consent, under Sections 29 and 30 of the Police Powers Responsibilities Act (Qld), police can lawfully search you without your consent or a search warrant.
They can do this if they reasonably suspect that you:
- Have a weapon, explosive or knife on you
- You are in possession of drugs
- You have stolen or unlawfully obtained items
Do I legally have to do a breathalyser test if asked?
The short answer is yes unless you are medically unfit to do so. Refusing a breathalyser test results in harsh penalties, and it will often involve you losing your licence for a considerable amount of time and a huge fine to boot.
Refusing a breathalyser test typically results in the same penalty as a high-range drink driving charge regardless of whether you were over the limit or not which can have can have huge repercussions on your ability to work and partake in everyday activities for a considerable amount of time.
Filming the police. Can you, and should you?
Here in Australia, you can film the police under the condition that you are not preventing them from conducting their duties or entering their personal space. If you do either of these things while filming, you may be charged with additional charges.
If you proceed to film after being pulled over, make sure you’ve got your car turned off before you do. Being distracted by your phone can be dangerous if your car is still running. By law, police are not allowed to take your phone and delete any videos you have recorded.
Common reasons the police may pull you over
The police can pull you over for a breadth of reasons. Here are some common ones:
- Random breath or drug test
The police will often set up roadside breath test stops where they will randomly pull cars over for testing. Other times they will randomly stop cars that come across their path or cars that are driving erratically or not following the road rules.
Police can use speed detectors to track the speed of cars, both while they are stationary and moving. So even if the police car is driving, you can still be caught speeding.
- Using your mobile phone
Queensland has one of the toughest penalties for driving while using a mobile phone. Currently, the fine is a whopping $1,078 and 4 demerit points, and it’s speculated that it will increase further. The police are constantly on the lookout for people using their mobile phones, whether it’s talking on them or texting. The fine is the same.
- Broken tail light
Often people don’t even realise they’ve got a broken tail light until they get pulled over. It’s dangerous, and you may receive a fine.
Keep in mind
Remember that the police are only doing their job, and you should remain calm and respectful. It’s in your best interest to comply with the instructions of the police unless you believe you have a right to refuse. If you prevent an officer from completing their duties, you may be charged with additional offences.
When to seek legal advice
If you have been detained for questioning or arrested for an offence, you should seek legal advice from an experienced traffic lawyer as soon as you can. You have the right to remain silent and you do not have to say anything if you do not wish to. Your lawyer can speak on your behalf and often this is better as you won’t have the chance to say something that may incriminate you later. If you have been charged with a traffic offence and don’t know where to turn next, reach out to the experts here at Drink Driver Lawyer. We specialise in traffic law and can help you achieve the best outcome possible given the specifics of your case. Contact us today for an obligation-free consultation.