Can I Record a Traffic Stop?

3Can I Record a Traffic Stop?

We live in the digital age, where everyone has a phone that takes photos and videos. Because of this, people have access to recordings everywhere they go. You are likely aware of the many postings of traffic stops and police encounters that are posted on a regular basis on social media sites. Allegations of law enforcement misconduct and even unwarranted violence are common. You may feel that you should record your police interactions. However, the ability to record something does not necessarily mean that it is legal to do so. Many people wonder whether they have the right to record a traffic stop in North Carolina.


Recording in Public Spaces

North Carolina law allows anyone to take photos or record in public spaces. Public spaces are places where typically the general public has access. These places offer no expectation of privacy. Common examples of public spaces include parks, streets, sidewalks, municipal buildings, and retail spaces. The exceptions to the rule are places within these spaces that are private, such as restrooms or changing rooms. Generally speaking, recording on a public street or highway is legal.


Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I talk to the police?”


What are the Wiretapping Laws in North Carolina?

Wiretapping is defined as “the act of recording communications between parties.” Wiretapping includes recording audio, sometimes without consent. Each state has wiretapping laws in place. In North Carolina, the law allows one-party consent. This means that only one party needs to approve of the recording. You are within your legal rights to record an interaction with another person as long as you are part of the conversation. If you are not part of the interaction, you cannot record in secret.


First Amendment Rightscanine-search-police-search-Charlotte-Monroe-Lake-Norman-Criminal-Defense-Lawyer

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to free speech. However, sometimes the police try to limit a person’s use of their cell phone, for example. Law enforcement may confiscate a phone or limit access to recording. This may, in some instances, infringe upon your right to free speech. Additionally, when a police officer takes someone’s phone away, it might be an illegal seizure. There are some cases in which the courts ruled that recording an interaction with the police is an established right of U.S. citizens.


How to Properly Record Police Interactions

If you have been pulled over by the police, first and foremost, you must follow the directions of the officer. However, you may still be able to record the interaction. Be sure to ask for the name of the officer and state it verbally on the recording. Always be polite and remain calm and respectful. It is essential that you do not attempt to resist the police. Your actions cannot interfere with a police investigation, so make sure that you remain cognizant of the situation. Most police officers will not object to your recording as long as you are polite and listen to them.


In general, you are often within your rights to record the interaction of a traffic stop. The information may be extremely useful later in proving your case or defending charges. If you have been charged with a crime, you may wish to speak to our legal team as soon as possible. Call us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to schedule a consultation.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.



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