Can I Livestream my Own Police Traffic Stop?

police traffic stopIn a previous blog, the issue of whether you have the right to record the police during a traffic stop was discussed. As stated in that blog, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses Nevada, ruled in 1995 that the right is protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the subject.

But what about livestreaming your own police traffic stop? The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Virginia, recently ruled that a car passenger has a First Amendment right to livestream a traffic stop. The facts of the case reveal that a car passenger had sued the police officers who tried to take his phone after the passenger informed the officers who had pulled the car over that he was livestreaming the stop to Facebook. The officers told the passenger that he could record the traffic stop, but he could not livestream it. The officers believed livestreaming the stop was a threat to officer safety. The passenger later sued the police for violating his First Amendment right.

The Fourth Circuit pointed out that the issue of livestreaming a police traffic stop is so new that there is no “consensus of persuasive authority to establish this right.” Therefore, the Court found the officers were protected by qualified immunity. However, in deciding that a person has the right to livestream a traffic stop, the Court also held: “Recording police encounters creates information that contributes to discussion about governmental affairs. So too does livestreaming disseminate that information, often creating its own record. We thus hold that livestreaming a police traffic stop is speech protected by the First Amendment.”

You can read about the case here: Passenger had First Amendment right to livestream traffic stop, but officer is protected, 4th Circuit rules (

You can read the decision here: ca4-livestream-2023-02-07.pdf (

If you are in need of a criminal lawyer or one with knowledge of constitutional law, please contact the Nobles & Yanez Law Firm for a free consultation.