Recording a Traffic Stop With Smartphone in a Michigan DUI

Dashboard cameras have long been used in police cruisers to capture roadside traffic stops, and body cameras have become increasingly popular over the last several years. These days, though, almost everyone has the capability to record high-quality video on a smartphone. But what are the rules surrounding recording traffic stops or encounters with police in Michigan? And when might the recording be admissible as evidence in trial?

Your Right to Record

In Michigan and across the United States, you are within your constitutional rights to record interactions with law enforcement, so long as you do not hinder or impede officers’ ability to perform their duty. This means that you may legally take video of a traffic stop with your smartphone or other recording device.

However, the practicality of taking video during a traffic stop may become a factor. For instance, if you are driving alone and are pulled over, officers may become agitated if you are trying to hold a recording device in one hand while fumbling through your wallet or glove box for a drivers license or proof of insurance with the other hand. You may be able to place the phone or camera in a cup holder or prop it up on the dashboard, though.

Alternatively, if you have a passenger with you, he or she could record the encounter, leaving you free to comply with the officer’s requests.

Video Evidence

Just because you record an interaction with police does not mean that the footage will be admissible as evidence in trial. The admissibility of video evidence would depend on the specific details of case and the rules of the particular jurisdiction in which the case is tried.

However, even if the recording is not allowed as evidence in court, it may still provide your attorney with a different perspective that could help with preparing your case for trial.