Part 5 What To Do During A Traffic Stop

You don’t have to consent to a search. In order to search your vehicle without your consent, an officer needs probable cause – maybe he smells something in the car or sees a bottle on your seat. If he doesn’t have probable cause, but wants to search your car anyway, he’ll need your consent and may ask you something like, “You don’t mind me taking a look in your car, do you?” Even if you haven’t done anything illegal, it’s usually a good idea to exercise your Fourth Amendment right in this situation and decline the search. “While you may believe you have nothing to hide, you never know what could come up. Maybe a friend left an empty beer can in your back seat during a tailgate party, and the officer will charge you with an open container violation. Politely decline the search by saying, “I don’t consent to a search, officer,” loudly enough so it gets on the police recorder. 

H. Wait for the officer to ask for your documents. Don’t try to expedite the process by getting your license and registration ready while the officer approaches your car. For all he knows, you could be reaching for a gun or trying to hide some sort of incriminating evidence. Wait until he or she gets to the window and asks for your documents. Be sure that your documents are in an accessible location, such as the armrest, visor, or glove compartment. Move slowly as you are getting the documents, no sudden moves.

I.  Once you are 21 years of age or older and you have a CCW or have a weapon, let the officer know. Some states have laws that require concealed carry owners to inform officers that they’re carrying a gun anytime they get pulled over. These are called “must inform” states, Ohio is a “must inform state”. Officers are allowed to ask for and hold the weapon for the duration of the stop. Even if you don’t live in a “must inform” state, as a courtesy to the officer, you might want to disclose the fact that you’re carrying. Nothing puts an officer on alert like seeing a “print” of a gun through a motorist’s clothes. Ohio law prohibits the purchase of a firearm by any person under age 18, and the purchase of a handgun by any person under age 21. Ohio law also generally prohibits selling or furnishing a firearm to a person under age 18, or a handgun to a person under age 21

J. Return hands to the steering wheel. After you’ve handed the officer your paperwork, return your hands to the steering wheel. “It keeps them visible to the officer,