Getting pulled over by the police in West Virginia (WV) can be an uncomfortable and even frightening experience. While the vast majority of traffic stops are conducted without incident, you should still be aware of your rights in a WV traffic stop.
Under WV Code chapter 17C, article 2, failing to abide by traffic laws is a misdemeanor. However, even if you were violating the law, police officers must honor your rights when you are pulled over. Knowing your rights is the best way to protect yourself during an encounter with law enforcement and in any legal proceedings that follow.
Knowing Your Rights in a WV Traffic Stop Can Make a Big Difference
Police officers know that most civilians don’t know the law as well as they do. Unfortunately, this can lead to law enforcement pushing the limits during a traffic stop and talking you into something you have a right to refuse. That means it is your responsibility to know and defend your rights in a WV traffic stop.
Understanding your rights when you are pulled over in WV can help protect you to some extent, but police officers can still make mistakes or handle a stop improperly, even if you do everything right. If you are facing charges after a traffic stop was conducted improperly, a WV traffic stop attorney can help prove that your rights were violated and defend you against the related charges.
Your Right to Remain Silent
If you’ve ever watched a crime TV show of any kind, you know about the right to remain silent. The right to remain silent has been established in criminal law since the 1960s. It means that you do not have to answer any questions about what you are doing or where you are going.
WV does not have any identification laws, so you do not even have to provide your name to police officers. However, the best actions you usually can take when pulled over are to provide your identification, verbally state that you are exercising your right to remain silent, and call your attorney.
Your Right to Refuse a Search
If police suspect illegal activity, they may request to perform a search of you or your car. You have an absolute right to refuse this search. With the exception of a few very specific circumstances, police officers may not perform a search without your consent or without a warrant. Even if you have nothing to hide, you do not have to feel pressured to consent to a search. Your rights only mean something if you exercise them, so don’t hesitate to confidently but respectfully decline an unlawful search.
Video Recording Can Protect Your Rights When You Are Pulled Over in WV
In WV, you are permitted to record police officers doing their jobs, as long as it does not interfere with their work. While turning on your camera can sometimes irritate police officers, you have a right to record these interactions, and being recorded may deter law enforcement from pushing the limits or infringing on your rights during a traffic stop.
Call Your Attorney to Ensure Your Rights in a WV Traffic Stop Are Protected
Some police officers may tell you to not make a phone call during a traffic stop. However, you have every right to make a call to your attorney. Your lawyer can talk you through the situation and help you communicate with law enforcement. If you are arrested after the traffic stop, you have a constitutional right to an attorney, and you should seek counsel right away.
Having a WV traffic stop attorney by your side during a stop and after an arrest is one of the best ways to ensure your rights are protected and walk away with a favorable outcome.
Have Your Rights in a WV Traffic Stop Been Violated?
If your rights have been violated during a traffic stop, you can fight back. Illegal stops, searches, and questioning are some of the most common reasons evidence gets thrown out in criminal proceedings. If your rights have been violated, WV traffic stop attorney Jason Harwood at Harwood Legal PLLC can help. Jason knows the WV traffic stop rules and can help you defend your rights in a WV traffic stop. Reach out to Jason by calling 304-752-5015 or by completing his online contact form.