Traffic Stops – Do Passengers Have Rights?

Traffic Stops – Do passengers have rights in south Carolina?

I’ve talked about traffic stop rights if you’re the driver but what if you are the passenger? Do you have any rights? Are they the same or different than the drivers?  Let’s find out. Hi, my name is Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, SC. Today we’re talking about traffic stops and what your rights are as a passenger.

Fourth Amendment Seizure

When police initiate a traffic stop both the driver and the passenger have now been seized therefore triggering the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizures.  And we’ll get to those rights in a minute but first I want to discuss what legal requirements are different from a passenger’s point of view because that’s what this video is about.

What are a Passengers Rights?

In South Carolina, as in most states, when you drive a vehicle on the road you are required to a have a driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration which you must show police during a traffic stop.  As a passenger, your legal requirements are different to the drivers, there is no legal requirement that you have a driver’s license or any of those other documents.  That’s right, you do not need to have your driver’s license on your person if you are a passenger in a routine traffic stop.

Now getting back to your fourth amendment rights, in general, a passenger rights when pulled over by police are the same as the driver’s rights.  These include:

  • The right to remain silent.
  • If police can require you to step out of the vehicle.
  • You can challenge the legality of the traffic stop in court.
  • You can challenge the legality of the search in court.

So, if police do search the car and you are arrested based on that search, you can challenge the legal basis for the stop and the legal basis for the search including any evidence of a crime from that search, just as the driver can.  This also means that you must deny police consent of that search or you waive that right to challenge it later in court.

So remember as a passenger you can remain silent, deny consent to a search and challenge the legal basis for the stop and any evidence found if you preserve those rights at the time of arrest.

Charleston, SC Criminal Defense Attorney

So, if have been charged with a crime following a traffic stop and want to discuss your options, please call me at (843) 530-7813.  I hope this video was helpful and thanks for watching.

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