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  • How Long Can a Police Officer Detain Me After Pulling Me Over in NM?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney - New Mexico Criminal Law OfficesWhen you’ve been pulled over by a police officer, it can ruin your day. Hopefully, the process won’t take long, you will get your traffic ticket and then move on. In some instances, the officer may suspect you of being guilty of another offense, and detain you longer. Just how long an officer can detain you is a matter of opinion that has recently come under scrutiny. While there is no hard and fast rule and no specific number of minutes or hours, there are guidelines that police officers must follow. If there has been a violation of these rules, you may have a case for having your arrest or citation dismissed in court.

    If an officer pulls you over and asks to search your car, you have the right to say no. It is not a good idea to let an officer search your vehicle, even if you feel certain that this is not a problem. First of all, having your car searched is a major violation of your privacy. Secondly, if you have allowed another party to borrow your car, you could be at risk. Drugs or drug paraphernalia may have been left in your vehicle, unbeknownst to you. The consequences of a vehicle search can be very serious in these cases. There is no point in arguing with law enforcement; if illegal substances are found in your vehicle, you will be taken into custody.

    Waiting a “Reasonable” Amount of Time

    In a recent Supreme Court ruling, it was decided that police do not need probable cause to allow a drug sniffing dog to walk around your vehicle; they are allowed to use a dog at any traffic stop, even if the stop is for a minor issue, such as a broken headlight. Most often, a police officer will not have a drug-sniffing dog. This is when your rights come into play. If you are stopped for a minor traffic violation, the police do not have the right to detain you for an extended period of time while waiting for another officer to bring the dog to the scene. If it takes longer for the dog to arrive than it does to reasonably run your driver’s license and registration tags, and then cite you, your rights may have been violated.

    Overturn Your Arrest with the Help of a Criminal Defense Attorney

    The worst case scenario is that the officers bring a drug-sniffing dog to the scene of a traffic stop, and the dog then alerts the police to illegal substances. You are then arrested for a drug charge, when the original stop was for expired tags, a broken headlight, or some other minor violation. You may not realize that you have recourse. If you believe that you were detained for an unreasonably long period of time while waiting for a drug-sniffing dog, your case could potentially be dismissed.

    If you are pulled over, take note of the time; keep track of how long it takes the officer to run your ID and vehicle registration, and the time it took for the police to bring a dog to the scene. If possible, record the incident with your phone. This information is often valuable data that can be an important part of the evidence used by your criminal defense attorney. Contact us today to discuss your case and determine if your rights were violated by the police in a traffic stop.