Villarini & Henry, L.L.P.
888-834-8623 716-312-1136

What are my rights during a traffic stop?

Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, a police traffic stop can be a nerve-wracking experience. Fear and apprehension are normal feelings when interacting with police in a tense situation.

But knowing your civil rights and putting them to practice can keep your mind at ease and make the stop go as smoothly as possible

You do not have to consent to a search.

Police will often ask to search your vehicle during a traffic stop, but they do not have a right to search it without your consent, probable cause or a warrant.

During a traffic stop, remain calm and obey commands. Police may try to verbally coerce you into letting them search your vehicle, but remember that you do not have to consent to the search.

You can record your traffic stop.

You are within your rights to record your interaction with police on your cellphone or camera so long as it doesn’t interfere with police business or stall the encounter. Though the First Amendment protects your right to record, if your recording gets in the way of police doing their job you could be charged with obstruction of justice.

It is also your right to get the name or badge number of the police officer conducting the stop. This information could be useful later if you feel there was a violation of your rights.

You have the right to remain silent.

Give the police your license, registration and proof of insurance if they ask for it, but otherwise you do not have to answer any questions the police officer may ask. Your passengers also have the right to remain silent and the freedom to leave if the police officer says they’re not detained.

Know that any information that you give a police officer is on the record and could possibly be used against you in court.

Know your responsibilities.

While it is important to know your rights, be responsible if stopped by police. Remain calm and be polite and professional. Never lie to the police or present false documents, and remember you have the right to speak with an attorney.

Knowing your rights and understanding your responsibilities can be crucial in helping you feel more confident and informed in the event of a traffic stop in New York.

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