Most of us prefer not to be pulled over by a traffic officer, whether guilty or not. They have that hollow stomach effect on everyone. And with all the corruption and crime you are rather scared, especially if you are a woman alone or even an elderly person. But do you know what your rights are should a traffic officer pull you over?
A police officer of traffic officer wearing a uniform has the right to pull over any vehicle at any time.
If this happens, you are compelled to provide your name and address if so requested, as well as any other information regarding your identity.
You are entitled to ask the person in uniform for proof of identity, appointment certificate or official documentation to identify himself. Should he refuse, he is transgressing the Criminal Procedures Act and any action he takes against you will be regarded as illegal.
According to the Road Traffic Act, a traffic officer has the right to ask to see your driver’s license.
You are supposed to have it with you all the time, or in your car, so this should not be a problem.
Traffic officers are entitled to remove a license disc from the vehicle and declare the vehicle not roadworthy. The vehicle could also be removed from the road.
Traffic officers may under no circumstances arrest you for unpaid road traffic fines, unless a warrant for your arrest has been issued. They may also not force you to pay the fine there and then.
They may not detain you for an outstanding fine for which a warrant has not been issued.
A male traffic officer may not search a woman and the same rule applies vice versa.
Searching and confiscating your vehicle by officers may not take place without motivation. Officers must have a strong suspicion that you have been involved in a crime and a warrant must already have been issued by a magistrate for your vehicle to be searched and even to be confiscated. This does not apply to official roadblocks where searches are conducted and the necessary warrants have already been obtained.
When you are arrested by an officer, he/she must immediately read you your rights and you have to be taken to a police station immediately. You also have the right to see a copy of the warrant of arrest.
Never resist arrest – it is the dumbest thing you can do.
Always stay in control, no matter what the situation or provocation might be. There are laws that protect your rights but only if you abide by the rules and obey laws.
Should you be pulled over and feel unsafe, AfriForum has the following tips:
Switch on your emergency lights.
Indicate with your hand that you want to talk to the officer and that you are co-operating.
If the officer comes up alongside you with his vehicle, communicate that you don’t feel safe and that you wish to drive to the nearest police station, petrol station or any safe haven.
Notify your next-of-kin immediately about what is happening and request them to meet you where you intend stopping or where you are driving.
Don’t be aggressive towards the police or traffic police, be polite at all times.