You're driving along an Indiana road with a few friends. You've all been working and studying hard, and you've been looking forward to spring break. It's finally here, and you can't wait to kick back and enjoy some good food, company and local nightlife. In fact, thousands of other young adults your age are likely doing many of the same things this time of year.
As always, if you plan to drive a motor vehicle to reach your social destination, it's best to familiarize yourself with state traffic laws ahead of time. Nothing can bring your spring break fun to a halt like getting pulled over by police and charged with a drug crime.
Know and protect your rights
From the time you were young, your parents probably taught you to respect and obey authority. As a child, your parents probably disciplined you for any infraction. Some things stay much the same when you become an adult, such as your obligation to obey the law, and the potential for punishment if you don't. However, this does not mean that you don't have rights if a police officer pulls you over in traffic. Some basic guidelines regarding what you may and may not do in such circumstances include:
- You may not run away from the scene or try to resist an officer if he or she arrests you.
- You may refuse to allow an officer to search your car if the officer does not produce a valid search warrant.
- You may not refuse a search if an officer obtains a required warrant.
- You may invoke your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment beyond any questions related to identification information pertaining to you or your vehicle.
- You may record your traffic stop in its entirety, along with any subsequent arrest, if applicable, so long as doing so does not obstruct an investigation.
- You may request assistance from a defense attorney.
- You may not get rid of anything that an officer might construe as evidence. (I.e. Do not start throwing prescription pills out the window or tossing empty cans under the seat.)
It's typically best to be polite and cooperate with the officer as best you can. However, if the officer takes you into custody, and you face charges for a drug-related crime, you have every right to challenge proffered evidence if you believe that a violation of your rights took place. Even if officers acted according to strict protocol to protect your rights, you could still challenge any charges filed in a criminal court.
If you're arrested during spring break, it has a negative effect on the rest of your vacation, and might even cause a detriment to your college career. Facing drug charges in Indiana is a serious matter that often carries severe penalties if convicted. However, many defendants successfully avoid conviction by relying on highly experienced guidance from criminal defense attorneys.