Legality of taking video during traffic stop

Posted at 4:24 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 17:26:13-04

Cameras are everywhere. They're getting smaller and cheaper and they're attached to almost every cell phone. With more videos of police activity being captured, the question is when are you allowed to capture that video?

"You can video everything that happens. There's not a problem with that. It's absolutely permissible." Jeffrey Swartz, Law Professor, said.

Swartz explains it's perfectly legal to record everything an officer is doing as long as the officer knows he or she is being recorded. Holding up a cell phone is clear enough, but if someone is recording with a dash-cam or GoPro, he says the citizen needs to make it abundantly clear to the officer that they're being recorded. 

"You may be violating Florida statutes by improperly recording somebody without their knowledge" he said.

He says an officer cannot tell a citizen not to record anything, but there are certain commands that may inhibit it. He explains an officer has the right to demand that you get out of your vehicle. The officer also has the right to pat the driver down. During the pat-down, the officer can tell you to put your phone (or other recording device) down.

"He's not going to let you keep that cell phone in your hand while he's doing that." He said.

And, if you have broken any laws, that video could potentially be used against you as evidence.