Example of how the police can search your car without a warrant or your consent [video]

Isn’t it now a felony to make a recording of a police officer which includes audio? Perhaps the officer didn’t realize this.

Holy shit. Really? Your police state is really getting out of control.


We are all doomed. The Terrorists, AND the redneck assholes have won. Good job America.

No flame war here. But you know what? Fuck that. The cops were way, WAY out of bounds here. The guy just wanted his rights and to be left alone. Count me as one who is sick of this shit.


And how in hell were they NOT behaving in a discriminatory manner?

No, that’s bullshit. In fact, the complete opposite. It is constitutionally protected to record cops in most, if not all, jurisdictions in the US.

Of course, cops aren’t always abiding by the law, so expect them to violate that right if they think they can intimidate you or destroy evidence.


Man, that cop has an epic case of pig-face. Add a couple of tusks and you’d have a Gamorrean…


In certain jurisdictions, audio-recording without the consent of both parties, in a context with a reasonable expectation of privacy is contrary to anti-wiretapping laws. Doesn’t matter if it’s a cop or not, though an embarrassed cop is… not unlikely… to have a go at you on those grounds.

The expectation of privacy bit has proven to be a complication. 1-party consent states are obvious enough; but in two-party consent states, the question of what, exactly, is happening “in public” and thus can be audiotaped to your heart’s content, and what has an expectation of privacy is a bit sticky. IANAL; but my impression is that the judiciary has generally been unsympathetic to the idea that a cop doing cop stuff, on the clock, is acting ‘in private’; but if you are audiorecording somebody who has not consented and is in a privacy-expecting context, that can be serious business.

With regard to the U.S., it varies by state. In Alabama, where I am, you do in fact have to identify yourself if it’s demanded, and failure to do so is grounds for arrest. You have to give ID if you’re carrying it, or give your name and maybe address otherwise. (I consider this requirement to identify unreasonable.) Wikipedia had a pretty good summary for each state (maybe under Terry Stop), and the Alabama State Code was online so I read it for myself. (I did not however read related decisions – IANAL!)

I did not watch the video.
Generally the 4th Amendment requires a warrant for a search or seizure to be Constitutional.
There are many exceptions, here are a couple.

  1. Administrative searches
    DUI stops are generally legal (with some caveats) as an “administrative search” as are a variety of other searches (think airport).

  2. Consent Searches
    When you consent to a search, it does not violate the Constitution.

The comment about the Terry stop mentioned above is incorrect:
A Terry stop (good Wikipedia reading actually) is allowed when the police have a reasonable suspicion based up articulable facts that criminal activity is afoot.

Each state has different laws, so it will vary whether it is a crime/infraction not to present an ID upon lawful police request. Again, the specific rules will vary depending on where you are. Also, not presenting your id to officers may strengthen a police argument later that they had a reasonable suspicion sufficient for a Terry stop.

This is, Constitutionally speaking, a bit of a weird area and too complicated to be properly discussed here. A Terry stop allows someone to be detained for a reasonable amount of time to allow for further investigation. It is fairly common for people to refuse to consent to a search, and then have the police call in a canine unit (or is police refer to them a “k-9” unit). I actually have a lot to say about this particular subject, but the short version is, under most facts, I would not feel great about trying to get evidence suppressed that was found under these circumstances (although it is going to be really fact dependent, for instance, I would feel a lot better about it if someone was detained for say 10 hours, while they were waiting for the dogs to arrive).

This is an another complicated area of the law which is in flux, and again, the rules vary from state to state. Some places make unauthorized recordings illegal (often under wire-tap laws). Police will then charge people under these laws. In short, it is complicated and the answer could vary widely from state to state.

Hope that helps, I am happy to discuss particular issues further if anyone is interested.

disclaimer: I am not dispensing legal advice. I am just talking generally about complicated legal issues. Legal advice costs money. This is free, and it is also the internet, which is generally an awful place to get legal advice from.


What the cops want here, and all of stewards of authority want, is control. They don’t want to be challenged. They don’t want to be questioned. You are supposed to fear them and do anything they ask without question. This guy knew his rights and acted appropriately. But the cops are confused by someone standing up for their rights. This was a challenge to them. And they responded by overstepping their powers.


I’m told that once the window is open they can search the interior of your vehicle, because what’s in there is a possible threat to the cop.

25 years ago we were driving back through Texas on our way home from a Christmas in Mexico. Four guys in my small pickup with Indiana plates. A checkpoint appeared, and as I came to a stop I naturally rolled down the window. The officer asked us where we’d been, where we were going, and who did the truck belong to. I told him.

Then he leaned down and stuck his head in through the window, and leaned in as far has he could go- so the sleeve of his coat was up against my nose. Apparently he wanted a good look -and sniff- of the interior. Tactically it was a profoundly dumb move, because if I had had a weapon in my left hand -or had simply put the truck in gear and let out the clutch- he would have been in bad shape.

But no drugs, no weapons, just four college kids heading back to Indiana. The cop extracted himself from my truck and waved us on with as stern a look as he could muster.

I thought ‘due process’ means they have to crack your tail light to get ‘probable cause’ first … I suspect practically it’s quite hard for the Citizen Suspected to prevent a police officer making a search of the vehicle if the police want to … however the evidence they gathered would be ruled inadmissible in court.

In New South Wales (Australia) the police use the same dog ‘trick’ to search people at train stations. It is quite a humiliating experience to have them pull on gloves and search you head to toe and empty the contents of your bag and pockets onto the footpath (sidewalk) - in full view of the public. Of course when they find no drugs, you get no apology. At best they only catch users with this technique. Dealers tend to take taxis.

You should comply with instructions from the police as long as they are not unreasonable. I think a growing problem is people being unreasonable to cops because they can. The cop would much rather be at home having a cold beer and watching TV, not out late taking bullshit from some punk.
If the guy had complied with the police that video would have been 5 minutes shorter.

If the question is one of desire, my read is that the officer is emotionally invested in having his will be done. I take your point that these encounters may not be pleasant for the officer either, but he could easily just say “Oh, you don’t want to? OK, that is your right, have a nice day.”


Right! Asserting your basic constitutional rights is by definition unreasonable and grounds for suspicion. Isn’t that what you’re saying? Yeah…it kind of is. (Forget about your rights, citizen! Just comply!)


Guess what. That’s the cop’s job. Being annoyed that someone doesn’t cower in fear and comply with his (technically unlawful) commands is no excuse for false imprisonment (holding someone without detaining them), framing them for drug possession, and damaging his property.

The cop’s job is to uphold the law. In my book, it’s tantamount to treason when an officer abuses their position of authority. I’d be happy to see these cops tried as traitors, especially when they circumvent the fourth amendment using the dogs.

(edited for spelling and grammar)


Yes, but he is not at home. He is at work. Part of his job is to protect the rights of American Citizens. An argument could be made that this is his only duty, with all others at least ostensibly being derived from it. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he needs to find a job where that is not a requirement.

It would make my work days much more pleasant if I were allowed to simply disregard duties that I found to be inconvenient, but my employment rests on my actually doing what I’m paid to do. I see no reason to hold police to a lower standard, and can think of many why they should probably be held to a much higher one.


You’re correct, “but it’s our inalienable constitutional right to give the police that kind of shit, so excuse me for exercising it” seems to be the counterargument.

Something tells me that if you tried that kind of stunt in a genuine dictatorship, you really would end up being disappeared.

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