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Your rights and responsibilities on a traffic stop when you are a passenger

You’re pulled over in a traffic stop, but you weren’t driving. The police start to question you, ask for your ID, and ask to search you. Do you have to comply? What are your rights? Do passengers face the same requirements as those behind the wheel?

No, the police DO NOT have the same authority over you as if you were the driver.

As a passenger, you have the right to leave the scene if you want to. However, if you act in a suspicious manner then the police have the right to detain you. Nonetheless, even a detained passenger can refuse search requests and exercise Fifth Amendment rights by not answering any questions without an attorney present.

Further, the police cannot demand that you show them identification merely because you are a passenger in a stopped vehicle. Under Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District of Nevada, 542 U.S. 960 (2004), only when an officer has “reasonable suspicion” to ask for identification from passengers is a passenger legally compelled to produce identification.