Police Car

 One of the most common situations where Americans reach for their civil rights is during a traffic stop. Do you know what exactly  your civil rights during a traffic stop are? Here is a short list of 5 things you should remember during a traffic stop:

You DO Have the Right to Film/Record a Traffic Stop.

  • You can count on he police officer will be recording the traffic stop with their dash cam. Turn about is fair play,  you have the First Amendment right to film an officer during a traffic stop. In short this means you have the right to film, this does noy mean you can interfere with an officer while he/her is conducting their investigation. Remember that shoving your iPhone in a officer’s face could get you arrested for obstruction so be respectful. If officers confiscate your phone or camera, or if they arrest you for recording your traffic stop, then it is definitely time to get a criminal defense lawyer on your side.

Your Detention Must Be Reasonable in Length.

  • It IS entirely legal for a officer to pull a vehicle over and detaining a vehicle on reasonable suspicion that the driver committed a traffic offense. An officer can NOT detain you indefinitely for this suspicion. There is no set in stone number for how long is too long to be held for a traffic stop. Once pulled over cops will often detain drivers while running records checks on their license plates and IDs. But if a half an hour has elapsed since you were stopped, feel free to start your recording and be sure to ask the officer why you are still being detained. 

You Do Not Have to Consent to a Search.

  • Police officers will often ask drivers and passengers who they have stopped if they can search the vehicle. Remember without a search warrant or probable cause to search, you do not have to consent to that search. In most instances officers generally need a warrant or probable cause to search your vehicle, unless you give the officers consent to search you vehicle. Officers do not have to inform you that you have the right to say “no.” If you don’t want to allow police to search your vehicle, be direct and firm  (but not disrespectful); tell the officers that you will not consent to a search of the vehicle.

You Can Decline to Answer Police Questions.

  • You always have the right to decline to answer police questions, even if hey open with the classic “Do you know why I pulled you over today?” You do not have to say “Yes” or “No.” Yes it would be in your best interest to cooperate with the police during a routine traffic stop when it comes to giving them your license and registration and remaining in your car without resisting. It is those other questions they ask that you are under no obligation to answer, especially ones unrelated to the traffic stop. “Where are you headed?” , “Where you coming from?” and “You have anything illegal in the car?”.

You Can Request and Record Officer Information.

  • If you have a honest feeling that your civil rights were violated during a traffic stop, you will need to know some information about the cop who violated your rights. You can always ask a police officer for His/Her badge number during a traffic stop. Keep in mind that your civil rights protect you even during a simple traffic stop.


These Civil Rights are yours, they belong to you and it would always be in your best interest to exercise them as long as you you exercise them politely and with respect, without antagonizing officers. 


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