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Can I Record Police At A Traffic Stop In Virginia?

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | Traffic Law

The average driver feels a bit anxious during a traffic stop. Even someone who has never had a citation before might become very nervous during an encounter with law enforcement professionals. Even when people try to be compliant and respectful, officers could become aggressive or accusatory.

People from certain backgrounds may feel particularly anxious during an encounter with the police. Those with diagnosed mental health challenges, drivers from certain racial backgrounds and even female drivers stopped by male officers may feel incredibly anxious about a traffic stop.

Those worried about potential violations of their civil rights might consider recording their interaction with the police. Can adults in Virginia record police officers during a traffic stop?

Virginia is a one-party consent state

The federal Supreme Court has ruled on cases involving civilians recording the police. In general, those interacting with the police usually have the right to record the conduct of officers regardless of the jurisdiction. As public employees, police officers do not have the same right to privacy that many civilians take for granted.

However, people may feel more confident recording video when police officers seem unhappy about it if they know that the law is on their side. In Virginia, only one party involved in an interaction has to consent to the recording of audio or video. Therefore, those stopped by police in traffic typically have the right to record their interactions with law enforcement even if the police officer seems upset about their decision to capture video.

In fact, someone not involved in the traffic stop could also decide to record video so long as they do not actually interfere with the officer performing their job. Members of the public who spot what seems like a very intense or possibly inappropriate police interaction on the side of the road could decide to record the incident as well.

A police officer who knows that there is a camera recording their every move might be less likely to become aggressive or otherwise violate an individual’s civil rights. As such, learning more about the rules for police encounters and recorded evidence in Virginia may help people feel more confident about creating a permanent record of their interaction with an officer.