If I’m stopped by the police, do I have to answer their questions? Here’s the NC law

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It’s important to know and understand your rights if you are stopped by a North Carolina police officer.

You have the right to remain silent and can exercise that right by saying so out loud to an officer, according to Charlotte-based attorney Howard Long of Browning & Long law office.

“You cannot just remain silent. You should say something like ‘I’m asserting my Miranda rights,’ or ‘I’m asserting my right to remain silent’ to invoke this right,” Long states.

If asked to identify yourself when stopped by a police officer during a traffic stop, you are required by law to provide your driver’s license.

If you are operating a motor vehicle on public streets or highways, you are required to produce your driver’s license consistent with North Carolina law N.C.G.S. 20-29.

Failure to comply “with the officer’s request to write his name for the purpose of identification,” or giving a false name or address, or the failure “surrender his license” may result in a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina, according to the law.

You have the right to refuse to consent to a search of your home, car, or yourself unless they have a search warrant, Long says. “However, the police can pat down your clothing if they suspect you possess a weapon and may be able to search your car in limited situations during a traffic stop.”

You may not need to leave your vehicle, but, if the officer asks you to get out during a traffic stop, it is advised to follow commands.

While you should not physically resist, Raleigh criminal defense attorney John Fanney says that people have the right to refuse any additional search attempts by police.

During the interaction, it is advised to stay calm and don’t run, argue, resist, or obstruct the police.

“If you are not under arrest, you are free to leave,” said Long. “You should ask the officer if you are under arrest. If you are not being charged with a crime, ask if you are free to leave and then do so calmly.”