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Two ways police might violate your rights during a traffic stop

As guardians of law and order, police officers have a special duty to uphold the rights of the people they interact with. This holds true even if the officers feel certain the people have committed a crime. Unfortunately, it happens all too often that police officers abuse citizens' rights.

If any of the following sound familiar, then an officer may have violated your rights.

1. Pulling you over without probable cause

Driver behaviors such as drifting out of your lane repeatedly, speeding, ignoring traffic signals and seeming to drink from a beer can in plain sight are usually legal grounds for police officers to pull you over. However, if officers do not like the "looks" of you or of the bumper sticker on your car, they might pull you over and fabricate a reason after the fact for doing so.

2. Searching your car without permission

Sometimes during a traffic stop, officers ask to search your car. They are not expecting a "no" answer. After all, they understand that you feel stressed, nervous and pressured and that you may be afraid of appearing guilty if you decline a search.

So, if you do say no, officers may continue to pressure you and go ahead and search anyway. This is illegal. To search your car without your permission, they must request a search warrant and wait for it before proceeding with the search. Alternatively, if you have other people in the car with you, the officers may pressure them for a "yes" answer if you say no. However, you, as the driver, are the only person in the car who can grant permission.

Furthermore, if a police officer is waiting for a warrant to arrive and it is taking too long, the officer has to let you go. Do not just drive off, though. You still need to ask, "I have waited long enough. Am I free to go?"

The exception to searching without a warrant is if probable cause exists, for example, the officer says he sees a gun or smelled marijuana. Unfortunately, some police officers lie about having had probable cause.

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