In Virginia, what can I refuse without getting in more legal trouble?
- You need to pull over when police use their lights or siren.
- You need to give officers your license and registration when asked after a proper stop.
- You need to get out of your car if requested. (The Supreme Court allows this for officer safety.)
- You do not need to answer any questions. You have a right to remain silent. There is no legal penalty.
- You do not need to do any field sobriety tests. There is no legal penalty.
- You do not need to do the preliminary breath test out by your car. There is no legal penalty.
- You need to allow the police to cuff you without struggle.
- You must take the breath test at the station or you will be charged with Refusal.
Can police search me after a traffic ticket?
Generally no. The United States Supreme Court said that while an officer can order a driver out of his car for officer safety, the officer cannot conduct a field search based upon a traffic citation. Virginia courts have agreed that pat down searches cannot be based on a routine traffic stop.
“The cops kept on asking if they could search my car …” Good search or bad?
The Supreme Court of Virginia says “no.” Asking for “consent” multiple times is coercive.
Can the cops make me get out of my car?
Yes, after a lawful stop you must get out of your car if asked. The United States Supreme Court case was called Mimms. The Supreme Court said:
“We hold … that once a motor vehicle has been lawfully detained for a traffic violation, the police officers may order the driver to get out of the vehicle without violating the Fourth Amendment.”
Once the police pulled me over, they asked if they could search me for weapons. Can they do it?
The police can ask; you can say “no.” If you say “yes,” they can search. If you say “no,” then the police cannot do a weapons search unless they have reasonable, articulable suspicion that you are armed and dangerous. The United States Supreme Court said:
“once a law enforcement officer has conducted a valid traffic stop, the officer is justified in conducting a frisk of the person for weapons if the officer reasonably suspects that the person stopped is armed and dangerous.”
My buddy and I were parked. The cop walked up and asked who we were and what we were doing. Did I need to answer him?
Probably not. In a consensual encounter in Virginia, you are free to remain silent and free to leave. If police have legally stopped you though, you must identify yourself:
“criminal liability for failure to furnish identification … arises only when some independent basis justifies the detention and questioning of an individual in the first place, for example, “where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot.” Jones v. Commonwealth