Knowing your rights can help in not only avoiding false or unfair charges,
but can also help you avoid the inconvenience associated with the delays
caused by aggressive police questioning and other tactics.
- Always be polite with officers, but do not feel obligated to provide additional
information beyond confirming your driver’s license, registration
and insurance information.
- You never are required to answer questions asked of you by police regarding
your recent travels, or whether or not you have consumed alcohol or drugs.
- You are never required to participate in field sobriety tests such as allowing
the officer to “track” your eyes, stand on one foot, recite
the alphabet, etc.
- You are never required to consent to any searches of your person, belongings,
- You do not lose your right to refuse to consent to a search even if the
police threaten you with a dog search or to make you wait on a warrant.
- If arrested for DUI you have a right to refuse to consent to blood, urine,
or breath test procedures.
- If asked to step outside of your vehicle you should do so, but you also
have a right to lock the doors upon your exit.
- You are allowed to ask an officer if you are free to leave. If the officer
says yes then you have a right to do so. If the officer says no then you
have a right to remain silent until you can consult with an attorney.
- If you receive any type of traffic ticket or criminal charge in South Carolina
you are entitled to a jury trial, pre-trial discovery, and to have a lawyer
represent you in all legal proceedings. This includes everything from
$25 seatbelt tickets through murder charges.
If you decline any search and the police conduct it anyway, do not physically
resist. You will have a right to challenge the legality of the police
action later on in court. Often times, the patrol car will automatically
videotape the stop, so there will be proof of what actually occurred later
on. This can be helpful in establishing a defense to any tickets or charges
you may receive.