Traffic cops on your case? – Know your rights!
December 3, 2018
You’re listening to Shotgun by George Ezra, banging on your steering wheel and performing a one man show on your way home from work on a Friday afternoon. It’s the weekend baaaby! You’re excited to the max and you’re in your zone.
Suddenly, you see blue lights and a vehicle following you like a car in a James Bond movie. You panic and utter some unthinkable words. Geez, what did you do wrong this time? You greet the officer with a shivering smile and so the interrogation begins…
What are your rights when you get pulled over by an officer of the law?
Do I have to stop?
Yeah, you must stop if a uniformed officer signals for you to pull over. If you however feel unsafe, you can stop in a more public area like a garage or in front of a shop. Just acknowledge the officer and indicate your intentions to stop somewhere where you feel safe. Your right to safety is non-negotiable!
What questions may be asked by a traffic officer?
Your relationship status has nada to do with the officer. He/she can’t ask you if you’re single and what your significant other’s name is. That’s not cool! They are however allowed to ask you for your name, address and licence. If you are unable to produce your licence, you will have seven days to present it at any police station.
Are officers allowed to search my car?
Your 4-wheel baby is your private property. Officials aren’t allowed to just randomly search your car without a search warrant from a magistrate or judge. This rules out any ‘arbitrary’ search and seizure of your car, your person, and your possessions, and is written in the Constitution in the Criminal Procedure Act.
Can I get arrested for outstanding traffic fines?
If a traffic officer just randomly pulls you over and tries to handcuff you, you should contact your lawyer immediately! If there’s no warrant for arrest associated with any of your existing traffic fines, an officer will not have the right to arrest you.
The blue crew can however serve you with a summons to appear in court for an outstanding traffic fine. This is as long as the court date is at least 14 days after the date of issuing (excluding public holidays or Sundays).
Can an officer take my roadster away from me?
If your car is unroadworthy, a police officer may take it away from you immediately. Alternatively, they may specify that the vehicle be used for a limited period, or to reach a specific destination. That sucks, but it’s for the safety of yourself (and others).
Can an officer pull me over for no reason?
A traffic officer can pull you over to check your licence or if you have broken a traffic law. Pulling you over for no good reason is however taboo and time wasting.
Do I have a choice when it comes to a breathalyser or blood tests?
Hate to break it to you, but you can’t refuse a breathalyser or blood test. According to Section 65 (9) of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996, no person shall refuse that a specimen of blood, or a specimen of breath, be taken of him or her. You can be prosecuted for refusing to take a breathalyser or blood test.
Say no to immediate spot fines settlements
Stick to your rights and stay calm the next time a traffic cop pulls you over. Remember that they’ve got a job to do. Stay friendly and take ownership of your human errors on the road. Be a good driver!
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