You have the right to remain silent …. Or do you?

Have you ever been stopped by the police while driving and wondered what information you have to provide them? This article contains the answers.

We all know that when we see flashing blue and red lights it signals that the police want us to pull over. You must comply with this signal as soon as possible.

The first duty of the police upon pulling you over will be to identify you, including obtaining your name, address, date of birth, phone number and driver licence details. The police may also ask if you own the vehicle you are driving. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, they might request the name and address of the person who does own the vehicle.

You are obligated to provide this information to the police. If you fail to do so, or if you provide information that the police know to be false, they have the power to arrest you. In most circumstances, however, you have no obligation to provide any other details beyond this basic information. Also, if the police have stopped you only so they can establish who is driving the vehicle, they cannot require you to stay stopped for more than 15 minutes.

Drivers should also be aware that the police can only search your vehicle if they have reasonable grounds to believe it contains stolen property, drugs, or certain types of weapons. They can also search your car if you give them permission. You do not, however, have to give permission if the ‘reasonable grounds’ threshold noted above has not been met. The police would otherwise need a warrant to conduct a search.

If you are stopped while driving a vehicle that requires a class 2, 3, 4 or 5 licence, or any other vehicle that is operating under a transport service licence, the police may request more information from you than the basic information detailed above. This further information can include your logbook, wage records, employer details and contractual documents. You are obligated to provide this information. Logbooks, in particular, must be produced without delay – meaning immediately – and a failure to produce them is an offence. The police are entitled to review and make a copy of your logbooks.

The police can also carry out roadside inspections of commercial vehicles – aimed at identifying safety defects – without a warrant. These are distinct from vehicle searches discussed above.

If you feel that your rights have been violated during a police stop, or if you are facing legal charges as a result of an interaction with police, it’s crucial to seek legal advice promptly. Fortune Manning has a hotline (0800 4 FMLAW) for urgent queries, or alternatively, call Shafraz Khan on 09 915 2422 or Cathy Fisher on 09 915 2412.