Police traffic stop: your rights and obligations

If police pull you over, what are your rights and what is the officer allowed to ask you? 

Footage of the traffic stop that left Sam DuBose dead and a University of Cincinnati police officer charged with murder -- the incident coming on the heels of a controversial traffic stop in Texas. The exchange between a state trooper and Sandra Bland was seen on video. Both cases started with something many of us have encountered: a simple traffic stop.

Manny Gomez is president of MG Security services and a former NYPD sergeant. He says when an officer pulls you over, he or she will ask you for your driver's license and registration. You are legally bound to provide documentation that you are a licensed motorist and that the vehicle is registered and insured, Gomez says.

If the cop asks you to get out of the car, you also have to comply. But if the officer asks to search your car, you have the right to say no.

Civil rights attorney Norman Siegal says you have the right to record your interaction with the officer. He also says do not get into an argument with the officer; save that for your lawyer.

Gomez concurs. He says do not get aggressive with an officer.

  • You must give your license and registration.
  • An officer can ask you to step out of the vehicle.
  • You don't have to answer questions about where you're going or where you have been.
  • Most important: receiving a citation or even being arrested is not an admission of guilt.
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