Refusal to Submit to a Police Officer

Massachusetts law makes it a crime for any person, while operating a motor vehicle, to refuse to stop and provide his license, name and address when requested by a police officer.

In order for this crime to be applicable, the person must be "operating or in charge" of the vehicle.  This means that the person has active control of it by either being in the vehicle or in such physical proximity to it that he is able to drive away.

Although the crime of Refusal to Submit to a Police Officer does not carry the potential for imprisonment, General Laws Chapter 90, Section 25 punishes those found in violation by a fine of $100.

Additionally, although a police officer has a right to stop a vehicle because of a civil motor vehicle infraction, such as a broken taillight or speeding, that does not give the police the right to search the vehicle.  In order to justify a search of the vehicle, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is, was, or about to be committed.  

If, when stopped for a minor violation, a police officer asks you for permission to search the car, you do have a right to refuse the search!  A stopping police officer may, for whatever reason, want to search your car.  Not surprisingly, when a police officers asks "what do you have in the car?" or "do you mind if search?", most people agree - even though the person might be aware of something illegal in the car.  In these instances, you can and should refuse a search.  At that point, the officer must make a decision: either issue you a citation and walk away; or order you out of the car and search nonetheless.

If the police officer does the latter and you are ultimately arrested for something found as a result of the search, your attorney should contest the seized evidence in a motion to suppress, asserting that the evidence was the product of an illegal search and seizure.

Boston Attorney Lefteris K. Travayiakis has extensive experience in defending persons charged with Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crimes, including Drunk Driving Related Crimes, and is available 24/7 for consultation.

To schedule a Free Consultation, Click Here to Contact a Boston Criminal Lawyer, or call 617-325-9500.