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Know your rights in a traffic stop

Many Maryland residents may have heard that police officers often crack down on drunk drivers near the holiday season by implementing more sobriety checkpoints or by making more traffic stops. But what does a traffic stop really mean and what are the average driver's rights when being asked to stop? It is important to know one's rights to avoid being charged for motor vehicle offenses.

The most important thing to remember is that, when an officer asks you to pull over, you should do so as soon as possible and as safely as possible. A police officer needs to have probable cause stop your car-that means if he suspects that you are driving while impaired, he can pull you over and can even ask to check your blood alcohol concentration.

However, under law all that a driver must volunteer is their registration and proof of insurance-that too only when asked and one should reach for it without making any sudden movements that could raise alarm. In fact, if someone is behaving in a suspicious manner, it may give the police officer cause to search the car.

It is possible to refuse to take a blood alcohol concentration test, but this may result in a license suspension. In this situation, the officer suspends the license and gives him a temporary license that lasts for 45 days. On the 46th day, the suspension begins. However, it is possible to appeal the suspension and, at this appeal, the reasons the police officer pulled the car over in the first place are considered.

In fact where someone has been arrested on drunk driving charges, one of the things the defense attorney can question is the probable cause the arresting officer had for pulling over the suspected drunk driver's vehicle. It is also possible to contest the results of the blood concentration level test, because the reading is not always accurate. Drivers facing drunk driving charges in Maryland may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney for guidance.

Source: General Assembly of Maryland, "16-205.1" Accessed on Dec. 1, 2015

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
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Silver Spring, MD 20910

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013