Your legal rights and what to do in case of stoppage

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TLDR: Full video review available below!

We have all been through our fair share of obstacles. Personally, such an experience throws me into an inner conflict, wondering what to do if I was arrested.

I want to be a good citizen and comply with police questions, but not knowing my rights can leave me open to abuse. I believe many feel the same way, but it’s not something we think about or worry about until it actually happens.

To be better prepared, here’s what you need to know about the limits of what the police are allowed to do when stopping a driver at a roadblock (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Understanding authority cards

Roadblocks are for police officers to investigate certain cases. This is their workafter all.

They can do this because they search for crime suspects, verify and validate identities, curb illegal immigration, and verify valid driver’s licenses, for example. They have the right to verify your information.

Before discussing the different arrest scenarios and what you can do in each one, it is important to understand the different ranks of the police through their authority cards.

There are three: red, blue and yellow.

  • Red – The policeman was suspended. They have no right to ask you for anything.
  • Blue – You are talking to a inspector or someone of a higher rank. This allows them to execute most commands, but more on that later.
  • Yellow – They are below the rank of Inspector and can only perform certain commands on their own. The rest must be supervised by an inspector or a superior officer.

What you can do in these situations

1. You are stopped by a uniformed or plainclothes police officer.

You can ask for their authority card. If it’s red, you can leave since it’s a suspended officer. If it’s blue or yellow, you can hear them.

2. They ask you questions about your identity, such as your name, IC number, address and occupation

You are required to provide your IC and driver’s license. If you fail to provide your IC during inspection, you may be fined, arrested without a warrant, or face both penalties.

If you cannot present your driver’s license or if it has expired, you get a summons payable within two months.

3. If they ask more questions outside of identification purposes

You can write down the name of the police, the identification number of the authority and the registration number of their vehicle. Alternatively, you could politely ask, “Am I under arrest?”

4. If they arrest you

You should ask what offense you are arrested for and what police station they are taking you to.

You are not allowed to resist arrest, but it is illegal if you do not know the reason.

If you resist, the police can use reasonable force to get you to cooperate. Once at the police station, you have the right to make an appeal.

5. If you are not arrested

You can refuse to leave at the police station or other designated place.

6. If you’re just a potential witness they can’t arrest

Refusing to cooperate by providing more information is an offence.

The police can then issue a formal order in writing signed by an investigator asking you to cooperate, or ask the magistrate to issue a warrant against you to cooperate.

You are allowed to request the accompaniment of a lawyer when you are under investigation, as the police may note your answers.

These situations are not exhaustive, and there may be specific, additional consequences or fines if you break the law in certain circumstances.

The policy is also subject to certain limitations

Although the police may ask you to stop at the roadblock, they are also subject to several limits on what they can and cannot do.

The police have the power to stop and search vehicles and the passengers inside. They are also allowed to perform body searches without arrest if they think you are hiding illegal things.

However, only policewomen are authorized to search women.

In any case, body searches can only be carried out in the presence of an inspector or a superior officer.

During these body checks, it is important to note that you must not allow the police to put their hands in your pockets or clothing.

Instead, you can offer to empty your pockets on your own and present the items clearly.

If an officer threatens, assaults or harasses you with inappropriate commandsyou are allowed to protest and file a report after the incident.

You can also record interaction on your phone, which will be useful as evidence.

Remembering the details and location of the police officer will also be helpful.

No law prevents you from recording the police during a stop, but there are a few conditions for doing so:

Once reported, they can be prosecuted under Sections 509 or 354 of the Penal Code.

Preparation is always a good idea

It’s always a good idea to be prepared and here are some of the ways you can do that:

  1. Make a copy of The red book by the Malaysian Bar. This is a cheat sheet containing all of your basic rights as a Malaysian citizen.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the viable reasons arrest, such as being drunk or stoned in public, breaking state or municipal bylaws, or violating the “peace”.
  3. Do not panic when you are stopped by the police and calmly follow the instructions.

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Just remember what your rights are so you know exactly when a policeman crosses a line. As long as the police themselves are aligned with the laws we mentioned earlier, there is no reason for us not to cooperate.

To watch the full video on the subject, watch it below:

  • Read other road safety related articles we have written here.
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