Can you be arrested if you refuse to take a breathalyser or blood test when you are driving? Find out your rights for geting pulled over.
Published: Monday, March 6th 2017
When you are pulled over, there may be a million thoughts running through your mind. "What did I do?","Oh no, what about my parking fines?", or "What if I am over the limit?"While most of these thoughts should be apparent to you before you are pulled over, it's human nature to think we could possibly be in the wrong, even if we know we aren't.
Five FAQ About Getting Pulled Over
1. Do I Have To Stop?
If a uniformed officer signals for you to pull over, you are obligated to stop safely. You can, however, request to stop in another location, i.e.: a safer / more public area.
2. What Are The Standard Questions An Officer May Ask?
You will be required to give your name and address, as well as any other particulars that concern your identity. In terms of the National Road Traffic Act, a traffic officer does have the right and authority to ask for your driver's licence. If you are unable to produce your licence, you will have seven days to present it at any police station.
3. Is An Officer Allowed To Search Your Car?
When an officer searches your car, they must have a valid belief that you have you been involved in a commission of crime, which justifies a search warrant by a Magistrate or Judge. This rules out any 'arbitrary' search and seizure of your car, your person, and your possessions, and is written in the Constitution in the Criminal Procedure Act.
4. What Rules Apply In Random Pull-Overs?
If you are singled out by law enforcement authorities in a "random pull-over", the same rules will apply, as mentioned in the Criminal Procedure Act. The officer will have to have probable cause to have pulled you over.This, however, does not apply when a constituted roadblock takes place. Search and seizure is, in fact, authorised prior to the roadblock being set up.
5. Can You Be Arrested For Outstanding Traffic Fines?
If there is no warrant or arrest associated with any of your existing traffic fines, a traffic officer will not have the right to arrest you.A traffic officer does, however, have the right to serve you with a summons to appear in court for an outstanding traffic fine. This is as long as the court date is at least 14 days after the date of issuing (excluding public holidays or Sundays).
If a law enforcement official wants to arrest you, you have the responsibility not to resist the arrest in any way. The law officer must, however, inform you of your rights immediately after you are arrested.You must then be taken directly to a police station. Driving around with you in the back of the vehicle is not acceptable.
An officer must have a valid reason for pulling you over, i.e.: a valid belief that you have you been involved in a commission of a crime, which justifies a search warrant by a Magistrate or Judge. There cannot be any arbitrary search and seizure of your car, your person, or your possessions.
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A police officer may order that the use of a vehicle, considered un-roadworthy, be discontinued immediately. Alternatively, they may specify that the vehicle be used for a limited period, or to reach a specific destination.
Breathalyser Or Blood Tests
You cannot refuse a breathalyser or blood test. According to Section 65 (9) of the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996, no person shall refuse that a specimen of blood, or a specimen of breath, be taken of him or her.According to the Justice Project of South Africa, if you refuse a breathalyser or blood test, to test your alcohol levels while behind the wheel, you can be forcibly held down while a needle is administered for a blood test. This can, however, only be after you have been arrested and a docket has been opened. You can also be prosecuted for refusing to take a breathalyser or blood test.