Pulled over? Here are your rights

Law enforcement officers, like Metro Police officers, are allowed to pull you over at any time, the AA explained. File Photo

Licence? Check. Seat belt? Check.

But what if you failed to pay a fine?

If you get that cold feeling all over your body when you see a traffic officer next to the road, you are not alone. Traffic officers, tasked with enforcing bylaws in a certain area, can be quite scary, especially if you are not sure if you paid that fine last month or not.

The Automobile Association (AA) explained what your rights as a motorist are when pulled over by police.

When pulled over by a police officer, the officer has the right to do so at any time, make sure you have your driver’s licence at hand. The officer is also allowed to ask for your name, address and any information about your identity.

Remember you can also ask the officer for his or her appointment certificate to verify his or her identity.

“The Criminal Procedure Act is very clear in stating that an officer who cannot or will not provide an appointment certificate on demand is in violation of the Act and that any actions that he or she takes will be unlawful if such a certificate is not provided,” the AA said.

If you are stopped at a roadblock, you cannot be detained without a warrant of arrest. The AA said an officer cannot arrest you for an outstanding fine “for which there is no warrant of arrest”.

“They may serve you with a summons to appear in court, as long as the court date on that summons is at least 14 days in the future (Sundays and public holidays excluded) but they may not force you to pay there and then”.

But if an officer wants to arrest you, be responsible by not resisting. Remember that an officer may only search you if he or she is of the same gender as you are.

In a road block, search and seizure has to be authorised beforehand. This means an officer has the right to search you or your car. But if you are singled out in a random pull over, the officer should have a warrant to do so.

Source: Automobile Association


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Chantelle Fourie
Metro Reporter

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