Second Call Defense Attorney Sean Maloney discusses some of his legal advice for traveling.

Concealed Carry Traffic Stop – Handling a Traffic Stop

Concealed Carry during a Traffic Stop – What have you done when you were pulled over by Law Enforcement while you are carrying a weapon? Let us know your stories

Note: Be aware that when transporting any firearm in a vehicle that some states have laws concerning a firearm being accessible to unauthorized persons. This could be someone underage or someone who by state or federal law is not allowed to possess firearms. Keeping it in the glove box with an unauthorized person in the passenger seat or in the center console with an unauthorized person in the back seat who can access it may be against the law in some states. Always store a firearm in a vehicle so it is not accessible to any unauthorized persons. Know the laws in the States you travel in.

If you are pulled over while Concealed Carry during a Traffic Stop, you should remember the following:

  • Pullover off the road as far as you can to protect the officer. They will notice and appreciate the concern for their safety.
  • Before the officer approaches, roll down your window (both windows, if possible, you never know what side of the motor vehicle the Officer or Officers will approach) and place your hands in plain view on the steering wheel. If it is dark out turn your inside dome light on.
  • Do not search your car for your license, insurance, or registration prior to contact with Law Enforcement. Imagine what that looks like to Law Enforcement looking in through the rear window of your motor vehicle? Your head disappearing below the seat or dash, while reaching into the glove compartment, and then searching your arm rest. From their view, Law Enforcement cannot always tell the difference between retrieving your registration or grabbing a weapon.
  • If you are required to promptly inform, the first thing out of my mouth interrupting Law Enforcement. “I am a concealed carry permit holder and I have it with me.” – Even though the duty to notify is different in many States I promptly inform every officer, in every State.
    – Calmly tell the officer that you have a license to carry a concealed firearm and that you have “it” with you.
  • Ask if the officer has instructions concerning the firearm. (I have a license to carry, and I have it with me, on my right hip. That’s preferable than saying “I have a gun”) You may not see his partner on the passenger side and all he hears is gun!
  • Do not touch or attempt to touch your handgun unless specifically told to by the officer. In some States and jurisdictions, it’s a felony to have contact with your firearm once Police contact has been initiated. Know the laws in the States you travel in.
  • Do not exit your vehicle unless specifically told to by the officer. If you are asked to exit your vehicle usually something has gone wrong.
  • Comply with all lawful orders given by the officer. If you are required to tell Law Enforcement you are armed, and you are not armed, tell them you are not armed because they are going to ask you if you are armed, since that information may be tied to your registration or driver’s license. Remain calm and polite now is not the time to argue.
  • In States where if a person is stopped for a law enforcement purpose and is carrying a concealed handgun as a CCW licensee, whether in a motor vehicle or not, he shall inform the law enforcement officer.
  • In some states for example, if there are four concealed carry holders riding along with you in your car during a traffic stop, all four concealed carry holders must inform every officer, they have meaningful contact with, that they are CCW license holders and they have “it” with them.
    – Hypothetically, you have a “duty to inform,” and you are involved in a “fender bender.” Five different Police Officers arrive from three different Law Enforcement agencies, what is your legal duty? Simply, you are required to inform each Police Officer that you have meaningful contact with, that you are armed.
  • Different states have different requirements related to “informing” Law Enforcement that you are armed during a meaningful contact. In some states you have a “Duty to Inform,” which is taken to mean that you have a lawful duty to inform Law Enforcement that you are armed, without first being asked. Other states require a duty to inform “if asked,” meaning when you are asked if you are armed, you are legally required to inform Law Enforcement and produce your “permit” where applicable. Know the laws of the States in which you travel.
  • In some jurisdictions Law Enforcement can take possession of and keep your firearm during the duration of the encounter. If Law Enforcement wants to take possession of your firearm and it is holstered on your body, to maintain safety for everyone involved, ask “how are we going to do this?”
  • Un holstering and re-holstering in a car is a dangerous task. From a seated position in a motor vehicle, it is exceedingly difficult not to muzzle the Law Enforcement Officer or yourself while trying to un-holster and transfer your firearm. Communication is the key, “Officer, I don’t feel it is safe to unholster while seated and then hand my firearm to you, may I exit the motor vehicle and then safely un-holster my firearm and transfer it to you?”