What are your rights when pulled over by police in Australia?
If you are pulled over by the police whilst driving there are a number of common questions that you may be asked. Keep in mind that it is important that you comply with the requests of the police. However, if you feel that you are being suspected of a crime or that you are being treated unfairly, it is important to understand your rights.
Some basic things to know when approached by the police on the road include:
Can you refuse to show your ID to the police?
If you are asked to present your identification when pulled over by the police you must provide it so that they can verify your identity.
What do you say when questioned by the police?
When pulled over by the police, you will likely be asked some simple questions, such as:
– Where are you going tonight?
– Do you know how fast you were travelling?
It is important to know that you are not legally obligated to answer any questions asked by a police officer, aside from their request to identify you. But it is recommended that you are always polite and cooperative when dealing with police officers, which includes answering some basic questions. If you feel that the questions are accusative you may decline to answer, however this may convey guilt or lack of cooperation, leading the officer to take other actions against, in particular if they suspect criminal activity.
If you have been detained for questioning by the police, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defence lawyer immediately. How to find the right criminal defence lawyer for your case.
Can a police officer search my car without my consent?
The police do have the ability to search your car without a warrant, if they reasonably suspect criminal activity. What constitutes ‘reasonable’ is vague and could mean that a police officer believes you are acting suspiciously. In most cases the cause for a search of your vehicle could be something like:
- The vehicle has been used or linked to a crime.
- Unlawfully obtained items are contained inside the vehicle.
- The vehicle contains items intended to be used in a crime.
- The vehicle and/or its passengers possess prohibited items such as drugs.
- The vehicle and/or its passengers are a risk to public safety.
Is evidence found during an illegal search admissible in court?
If your car is unlawfully searched without a warrant, any evidence that the police find may be refused in court. If the police do not get consent to search your vehicle, make sure that your refusal is documented by the police. Additionally, if any witnesses can provide a statement which confirms that you did not provide consent for the search to be conducted, that will significantly assist in strengthening your case.
Do you have to take a breathalyser test?
When you are pulled over by the police and requested to take a breathalyser test, you cannot refuse unless you have a lawful reason. For example you could refuse a breath test due to medical reasons, but in most cases the police will require you to provide a blood sample as an alternative.
If you fail to provide a breath or blood sample for testing you will be issued with a significant penalty. In most states the penalty is a fine ranging from $1100 to $4500. However, if you fail to stop the penalties can include imprisonment and loss of your drivers licence. If your blood alcohol concentration is found to exceed 0.05% (BAC differs for Learner and Provisional drivers), then you may face harsh drink driving penalties, such as loss of licence and jail time. Drink driving penalties can involve immediate licence suspension even for low-range drink driving offences.
If you have been found guilty of a drink driving offence, then a specialist drink driving lawyer will be able to assist you with your legal fight.
Am I allowed to film the police?
You are legally allowed to film the police if they are in a public space. If you are pulled over by the police, make sure you turn off your engine prior to operating any devices such as a mobile phone or camera.
The police are also unable to confiscate your recording device or delete any footage you have taken. However, it is important that you do not obstruct their duties or enter their personal space with a camera, as those actions can lead to you being charged with a criminal offence.
To summarise, if you are pulled over by the police whilst driving, it is important that you remain calm, follow their instructions unless you feel as though you are within your rights to refuse. Keep in mind that if you obstruct the police officer in their attempts to carry out their lawful duties, you could be charged with a criminal offence and face harsh penalties.
In an instance where a police officer is acting in a way that you feel impedes on your rights, or if you are charged with an offence that you wish to challenge, it is recommended that you speak to an expert criminal defence lawyer who can provide you with an effective strategy for establishing your case.
Benjamin Leonardo, is a Sydney based Criminal Defence Law Firm with offices conveniently located near the Parramatta and Sydney courts. Having defended more than 3,800 cases and with a success rate of over 90%, Benjamin Leonardo Defence Lawyers provide their clients with informed legal advice and flexible payment terms. They understand the strain criminal cases have on their clients and families alike, and provide sympathetic and non-judgemental advice and support to their clients. If you have been charged with a traffic offence, please contact Benjamin Leonardo on (02) 9283 3033, for first confidential consultation.