Law Office of Ronald A. Cabanayan
Law Office of
Ronald A. Cabanayan

DUI ~ Criminal Defense ~ Immigration/Naturalization

Justice Is On Your Side

What are your rights as an immigrant passenger in a car stopped by police?

As an immigrant without documentation, you probably try your best to follow the law. You don’t want to get arrested and risk deportation or similar immigration enforcement efforts. Riding as a passenger in a vehicle with a legally licensed driver is certainly safer than driving without a license yourself.

However, if the driver of the vehicle speeds or otherwise breaks traffic laws, police might initiate a traffic stop. When they do, they may make demands of you as a passenger. What rights does an immigrant have during a traffic stop if they are a passenger and not a driver?

You have the right to remain silent and to not identify yourself

This interaction ostensibly stems from someone else’s bad driving habits. The driver, not you, has to provide their license and registration information and interact with the officer..

The officer might ask you questions, but you can decline to answer them or to provide any identification for yourself. You also have the right to choose not to interact at all. Police can only take action against you if they have probable cause to arrest you.

You have the right to challenge your detention as a passenger

If the interaction goes on for a while and could make you late for work, you might what to leave. Provided that officers have not detained or arrested you, then you have the right to leave. On the other hand, you do have the right to question the legality of the traffic stop even if the driver doesn’t and to ask for basic details about the probable cause for the stop.

Standing up for your rights can be very difficult, especially if you are an immigrant. Both those concerned about their immigration status and those caught up in someone else’s criminal arrest may need legal advice when deciding what to do next.