Local attorney explains ‘driver rights’ during a traffic stop

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The tragic case from Memphis has WBRC digging deeper on your rights, during a traffic stop, here in Alabama.

WBRC spoke with Birmingham criminal defense attorney, Roger Appell, and he said that you still have rights and protections while driving a car, but you need to pull over if you see the flashing lights, even if you don’t feel like you’ve done anything.

He said police have the right to pull you over as long as they have “reasonable suspicion”, including things like tags or lights being out, illegal lane changes, or running a stop sign. But, Appell said police can only arrest you with probable cause, because you’ve broken the law. Appell gave driving under the influence as a probable cause example. He said police also have the right to ask you to search your car and you can say no, but, if they have probable cause they can search it without your permission.

Appell said its important to remember that signing a ticket is not an admission of guilt and that refusing to pull over, even for an unmarked car, can get you in more legal trouble.

“You had the wrong tag on your car or you were speeding, and they put the lights on, and you refuse to pull over, you can get the ticket for what they were trying to pull you over for and attempting to elude, which is a pretty serious offense,” Appell said. “If you say ‘I didn’t do this, I didn’t speed, I didn’t lane change’, then you can contest it and go to court and go to trial.”

Appell said there is no reason to not sign a ticket, because after, you will be allowed to drive off. He said if you show up to court contest your ticket, and the officer doesn’t show up, then you won’t have the ticket on your record or have to pay for it.

He said if you are driving and you feel like its an unsafe area to pull over or if the flashing lights seem suspicious, you have the right to keep driving until you get to a police or fire station, but Appell said you then would need to pull over.

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