What you need to know about your rights at a roadblock

There are two kinds of roadblocks that drivers can expect to encounter on the roads, explains motoring expert Ciro De Siena.

Read: 5 facts about the new SA number plates being implemented this year

The main difference between these two is the police’s ability and right to search your vehicle and person.

Informal roadblocks:

These roadblocks usually pop up on major roads and off-ramps. These roadblocks are an effort to curb drunken driving, speeding or unroadworthy vehicles and check for outstanding fines.

Police are only allowed to search your vehicle and your person without a warrant if the officer can prove extraordinary circumstances in the court of law.

You do have rights. You can ask to see a warrant and you can legally refuse for the vehicle not to be searched as well.

Ciro De Siena, Motor Journalist at Cars.co.za

K78 roadblocks:

These roadblocks are approved by the National Police Commissioner. Police officers are allowed to search your vehicle and your person without a warrant.

De Siena explains that officers are not allowed to take payments for outstanding traffic fines during a roadblock, unless they provide a copy of a warrant or summons.

There's no case when police officers can take money from you on the spot. If they do, they are almost certainly trying to get the bribe. It's against the law.

Ciro De Siena, Motor Journalist at Cars.co.za

Also read: Motorists flagging roadblocks and speed traps jeopardising road safety, says AA

He further explained what a motorist's rights are in cases where drivers feel unsafe about pulling over at a roadblock.

According to De Siena, motorists can:

  • Call 10111 and inform them that you’re either being followed by a car with blue lights, or you feel unsafe pulling over at a roadblock.
  • Provide the operator with a vehicle registration number if possible so they can verify whether the car is in fact a police vehicle.
  • Slow down as much as you can, switch on your hazards, open your window and indicate with your arm that you would like the police vehicle to follow you – ensuring under 40km/h.
  • Drive to the nearest police station or petrol station where you’re in sight of people and CCTV cameras.
  • Ask a police officer to provide proof of identity such identity card or badge number.
  • Film or photograph the officer for evidence purposes in cases of threats or police brutality.

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