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Can the Police Search Your Car? Your Denver Criminal Lawyer Explains Your Rights

January 17, 2018

When getting pulled over by the police, you may feel nervous. This is normal and it is important to stay calm. You have rights and do not have to consent to all questions you are asked. Be prepared and know your rights. The best way to learn is through your local Denver criminal lawyer, who understands the ins and outs of the law. From learning what to do if you get pulled over, and what you are legally bound to do, to working with a lawyer, use this as your guide to be prepared.

How to Handle Getting Pulled Over

A police officer will pull you over if they see a reason to do so. Police are not allowed to pull you over just to see your license. It could be anything from speeding to little-known traffic laws in Colorado that you may be breaking.

Upon seeing the flashing lights in your rearview window, remain calm and follow these steps:
  • When Getting Pulled Over: Use your turn signal and slowly pull to the side of the road. As you wait for the officer to approach your window, get your license, insurance card and registration ready. Put it in the passenger seat or have it in hand to provide to the officer.
  • How to Interact with the Officer: While you know you are not a threat, it is important to be respectful. Roll down your window and have your hands on the steering wheel when the officer approaches your car. If it is dark out, turn on your interior lights so the officer can see better. Be polite and courteous as they greet you.

Know Your Rights

Once the officer has reviewed your information, they will begin to ask you questions such as “Have you been drinking tonight?” or “How much alcohol have you consumed?” These are questions you do not have to answer. Decline and say something along the lines of “I decline to answer,” or “I am going to remain silent.”

Next, they may ask to look through your car. You do not have to consent to a search. It is your right to tell the officer you do not consent to having your vehicle searched. They may also ask you to perform a field sobriety test. It is your right to decline this as well.

If they have probable cause and think you are driving while intoxicated, there is the “Expressed Consent Law” which you will need to submit a blood or breath test. You can still refuse to do so, but it will lead to a one-year suspension on your license. Learn how to handle your next steps by reviewing the FAQ: criminal and DUI defense.  It is important to note that in the context of a Colorado DUI investigation, you must answer whether you will submit to a blood or breath test and you DO NOT have the right to consult with a lawyer before doing so.

At this point, the police officer may detain you as they try to resolve the situation. This is not a punishment for remaining silent, but normal procedure. You are still legally allowed to remain silent and ask to speak with your lawyer. Do not say anything until you speak with your lawyer.

Working with a Lawyer

Your lawyer will handle your next steps. Continue to decline to answer without an attorney present. Your attorney will handle everything. The best thing you can do to be prepared is to have your attorneys phone number saved in your contacts.

Be prepared and have the Law Office of John L. Buckley, 303-501-1800, saved in your phone. Our office will help you with your case.