What to do if you are pulled over
Whether it is in the form of a routine roadblock, or an officer signalling you to pull over randomly on the side of the road, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that the experience goes off smoothly and that you are on your way in no time. Even if you have done nothing wrong (to your knowledge), getting pulled over can be unpleasant.
Being pulled over is inconvenient to say the least, but if you are unfortunate enough to be stopped, the officer must have spotted a valid reason for pulling you over. Remember that officers are purveyors of the law, and the cop who is inspecting you and your vehicle is merely doing his/her job. Do not be aggressive or seem annoyed, as it may aggravate an otherwise neutral situation.
Have your ID, driver’s licence and any other required documentation at hand. Keep your hands visible at all times to ensure that you do not appear to be a threat. Bear in mind that as much as the officers have authority, stopping a stranger is a dangerous task in itself. For all they know, you could have a weapon or have ill intentions.
Art of Manliness says to turn off engine, roll down your window and turn on your dome lights if it’s dark outside so that the officer can see inside the vehicle as he/she approaches.
Do note that these guidelines do not allow an officer to infringe on your human rights, and if you feel that you have been violated, report it to your nearest SAPS. Do not get involved in an argument with the officer.
Can they search your car?
Legally, officials must have a valid reason to believe that you may have been involved in the commission of a crime and that a search warrant would be issued by a Magistrate or Judge if they wish to search you or your vehicle and/or seize your possessions as provided in the Criminal Procedure Act.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa forbids arbitrary search and seizure of your person, your property or possessions.
If a search is executed, you are well within your rights to report it.