Traffic-stop confrontations between police and motorists have made the news on a regular basis in recent years, leading to serious discussions about drivers' rights. Many experts advise drivers to comply first and complain later, but when it comes to passengers, what's expected? Do those riding in a vehicle that gets pulled over face the same requirements as those behind the wheel?
Field sobriety tests may be requested during a traffic stop by law enforcement if they suspect a driver of being under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). What tests can police ask for and what are drivers' rights surrounding them? Keep this information in mind as you get behind the wheel.
Yesterday, I wrote about the recent United States Supreme Court case of U.S. v. Rodriguez. In Rodriguez, the Court held that police cannot extend a traffic stop to 'sniff" around a car any longer than necessary to issue a traffic ticket unless there is reasonable suspicion that a crime is afoot. What was not mentioned was the reasons why the Court changed course and ruled the way it did.
It is common practice for police to use driving tickets as a pretext to search motorists' cars. The typical scenario includes the officer asking permission to search the vehicle but often times police just search anyways if the motorist is acting strange (in the officer's eyes). Commonly, the officer will use police dogs to sniff and find whatever is hidden in the car. Skilled officers will prolong the ticket writing to give the dog enough time to sniff (search) the car.