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Know Your Rights: What You Can And Cannot Do In MA At A Traffic Stop

by | Aug 11, 2021 | Criminal Defense, Know Your Rights

Police car pulling over a truck

There are many reasons why law enforcement may stop you in your vehicle. Whether it is because you are speeding, driving recklessly, or are acting suspiciously, every vehicle stop is considered a seizure and you have rights that must be respected. When you feel that your rights have been violated, it is important to have legal counsel that you can trust to assist you.

Video Recording

Living in a world where virtually everyone has the ability to photograph or video record what is happening around them raises many issues in legal arenas. In Massachusetts, the matter of whether or not a person is allowed to record police at a traffic stop was addressed in 2011 in the case of Glik vs. Cunniffe 655 F.3d 78, 2011. In that case, it was held that the ability to record law enforcement while they carry out their duties in public is a First Amendment right. This is important to remember, because as the old adage says, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Documentation & Disclosure of Personal Information

After you have been stopped by law enforcement, there are certain requests that may be made by the police with which you must comply pursuant to Massachusetts and federal law. This includes the following:

  • You may be asked to produce your driver’s license and registration
  • You may be asked to provide proof of valid insurance
  • You may be asked to provide your name and address
  • You may be asked to provide the name and address of the owner of the vehicle if it belongs to someone else
  • The police are able to check your name in their system to find out if you have any outstanding warrants as well as your criminal history
  • The police may run the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle you are driving to ensure it is not stolen

While the driver of the motor vehicle is required to comply with the officer’s request for their name pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 25, passengers do not unless they are being ticketed.


Roadblocks are an interesting form of a traffic stop as they allow law enforcement to stop and temporarily seize someone with no evidence that they have committed any wrongdoing. Roadblocks have been held to be constitutional as long as law enforcement follows a very strict protocol.

Let A Skilled Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Assist You

Knowing what your rights are is very important if you are stopped in a traffic stop in Massachusetts. It is important to remain calm, respectful, and comply with the officer’s requests to provide the information and documentation they are entitled to. For further information regarding your rights, as well as assistance if you have been ticketed or arrested during a traffic stop, contact our legal team at Maceolaw. You may reach us at 617-208-0505 or via our contact page. We are experienced legal professionals and we are here to help.