A traffic stop is something almost every driver will experience at least once in his or her lifetime. Whether or not an actual violation occurred, an officer needs only reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop. Drivers are required to provide their license, registration, and insurance when asked to do so and should obey any direct orders given by the officer. However, drivers are within their rights under Texas law to decline certain requests.
1. You have the right to know why
Drivers can ask why they were pulled over if this information is not directly provided to them. They may also ask whether or not they are being detained if the interaction runs long.
2. You have the right to film
The growing spotlight on improper police conduct has prompted many citizens to record their encounters should the situation turn hostile. Drivers (and citizens in general) may record their interactions openly.
3. You have the right to refuse (preliminary) alcohol testing
If a driver is lawfully arrested, he or she is required to take a chemical test to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If an arrest has not occurred and the officer is requesting a voluntary preliminary alcohol screening (a breathalyzer), the driver can refuse to take this test.
4. You have the right to refuse a property search
Officers must have probable cause to search a vehicle without the driver’s consent. This means they must have proof that a law has been broken or a probable reason to believe such a violation has happened (such as clear observation). Drivers may also be subject to search if an officer feels that their safety is in jeopardy.