Custody and Arrest after a Traffic Stop

An arrest happens when a criminal suspect is taken into police custody.  This typically begins immediately after the officer notifies the suspect that he or she is “under arrest.”  The suspect may not need to be handcuffed, and he or she may submit voluntarily to the officer’s demands.  He or she may also resist the officer, and run the risk of incurring heavier fines or more severe punishments.  It is important for suspects to know their rights when they are taken into custody.  This is why it is mandatory for an officer to read the suspect his or her “Miranda rights” during an arrest.  Knowing the laws about traffic violations and personal rights can keep suspects safe during a roadside investigation and interrogation by arresting law enforcement officers. 

Circumstances Involving Arrest

Excluding possessing outstanding warrants, there are two main ways that police officers can legally place individual drivers under arrest.  These events generally culminate in individuals having their vehicles impounded by police and the suspects being placed under arrest for a specific crime.  Even the most routine traffic violations can result in arrests and holding at a police station if individuals are not cooperative or are unaware of their rights.  The following two methods are reasons an officer may place an individual into police custody, including:

  • When he or she personally witnesses a criminal action or driving offense, if the officer can provide a firsthand account of the events, he or she can legally put a person into police custody.  Examples of this would include performing a breathalyzer test on a driver, and seeing that he or she was over the legal blood alcohol content limit
  • Probable cause, this just means that the police officer can make an arrest based on the reasonable personal belief that the person has or will commit a crime. For example, the officer can issue a breathalyzer test if he sees a driver swerving, veering in and out of traffic, and otherwise acting drunk.

In some instances, officers may exercise their right to detain individuals for a brief period of time until the facts about a situation are determined.  Additionally, this temporary custody may occur as law enforcement officers search a vehicle or speak with passengers to prevent the obstruction of justice. 

Both of the aforementioned circumstances may seem vague, however they were designed this way for a reason.  Police would much control a situation to allow them to further ascertain the facts at hand, rather than chance a suspect getting out of control or attempting to elude.  For person’s officially placed under arrest, rather than in the fashion of a temporary hold, each suspect is considered innocent until proven guilty, however, they may face incarceration until allowing their innocence to be proven. 

Arrest Warrants

A warrant is a legal document, given to authorities by a judge or a magistrate.  It gives the police the necessary permission to find a suspect and bring him or her into custody.  It must be presented, in many cases, to make an arrest legal.  The following information is present on the document:

  • The crime or crimes committed
  • The suspect or suspects
  • Where the suspect can be found
  • Permission to make the arrest

Suspects must submit to the will of the police officer or officers when the warrant is presented.  In many cases, officers will serve an arrest warrant via a routine traffic stop on a vehicle.  If suspects, who are most likely aware of their outstanding warrants, attempt to elude in a motor vehicle, a whole host of criminal driving related offenses can incur in addition to the charges outstanding in the warrant being served.  If you feel you are wrongfully being arrested, do not attempt to flee or resist the arrest, which can result in charges regardless of innocence of other crimes.  A competent traffic violations attorney will assist clients in ensuring their legal rights have not been violated by law enforcement during traffic stops.

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