With the festive season steadily approaching, the country on lockdown level 1 and over 10.8 million South African citizens being fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Many planned holiday destinations and travel plans set in motion are cause for more reason to know your rights and duties when stopped at a roadblock or pulled over by a law enforcement officer. When you are stopped by a law enforcement officer the following may be allowed by the law enforcement officer:
- The officer may search you and/ or your property without a warrant at a roadblock if the police can show good cause for the search;
- If the Police have reasonable grounds to search, they may search you and/ or your property at a roadside check without a warrant if you consent to a search;
- The Police may seize any smuggled goods or evidence without a warrant at a roadblock or roadside check;
- The officer may issue a fine in respect of the vehicle or the drivers competence;
- Issue a notice to discontinue use of a vehicle if it is suspected of being unroadworthy or impound if the vehicle is unroadworthy;
- Arrest any person who has been or is reasonably suspected of committing a crime;
- Arrest any person against whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by a Court; and
- Inform you of your outstanding traffic fines.
A law enforcement officer may not physically or verbally abuse you or cause any damage to your property. Law enforcement officers are not allowed to search you or your property at a roadblock unless there are reasonable grounds or you consent to the search. The officer cannot threaten to arrest you or force you to pay outstanding fines and discontinue or impound your vehicle without reasonable cause. You may demand to see an officer’s certificate of appointment, demand to see the written authorization of a roadblock and refuse to submit to a search at the roadside check, unless there are reasonable grounds for such search.
You may not refuse to provide a breath alcohol or blood sample, resist arrest or offer to pay a bribe. It is prudent to stay mindful of your rights and duties on the road and the due processes that need to be followed by the law enforcement officer and the road user. Whilst travelling and when stopped at a roadblock or roadside check, take caution not to antagonize the law enforcement officer with arrogant or aggressive remarks on how you know your rights and duties or attempt to tell the law enforcement officers how to do their jobs as this may trigger aggressive behaviour by the law enforcement officer and may lead to criminal charges and counter charges that further leads to a dragged-out court case.
Should you find yourself in a roadblock or roadside check predicament, do not hesitate to contact us for immediate and efficient legal assistance.