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Why can you be arrested for invoking your rights?

You get pulled over for a burned-out bulb in your tail light -- or maybe you rolled through a stop sign without coming to complete stop. Either way, you quickly realize that a police officer has decided to turn the traffic stop into an opportunity to see if you happen to be drunk or drugged while behind the wheel.

You aren't, but you realize that it might not matter. Conscious of your rights, you hand over your license and registration but politely decline to discuss where you've been, where you are going or what you've been doing -- including what you've had to eat or drink that day.

The next thing you know, you're being hauled out of your car and handcuffed for obstruction of justice or resisting a search. Does this sound like it is only something that could happen in a movie? Hardly. In one example of what people face every day in their encounters with the police, a victim was roughed up by police in Texas because he refused to answer an officer's question about what he had been doing prior to the traffic stop.

You may know your rights -- and even have the fortitude to assert them. Your right to do so is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. However, the police still may react with hostility and violence. Why?

Police officers are trained to assert their authority over the public and dominate through intimidation and pressure. When they encounter someone who doesn't respond as expected to those tactics, some officers lose their cool.

If you let an abuse of power push you to relinquish your rights at a traffic stop, it can be much harder to fight a DWI charge that results from the stop. Even if you are threatened with arrest or are placed under arrest, assert your rights as calmly as possible and let your attorney handle the matter.

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