Posted on Feb 6, 2020 in Criminal Defense, Traffic
What happens if an Uber, Lyft, taxi or other rideshare gets pulled over? Can the officer search the passengers or arrest them?
In the grand scheme of things, rideshare services are still pretty new. As such, much of the legal specifics surrounding the services are still somewhat unclear. In many cases, there are not specific laws relative to rideshare services. However, the existing traffic laws can be applied to different circumstances.
We’re here to clear the air and answer some questions about rideshare traffic stops.
Pulled Over While Riding Uber or Lyft
Let’s say you’re riding along in your Uber or Lyft and you see red and blue lights flashing behind you. Your rideshare driver is getting pulled over. Not only will you now be delayed in arriving at your destination, but you may be wondering if the officer will want anything from you.
In most cases, a police officer would check the license, registration, and insurance information of the driver, issue a ticket or summons, and set you on your way.
However, cops operate according to reasonable suspicion. It means, essentially, that if a police officer has a reason to suspect a crime is being committed, they may search your person or property. They may even issue a summons or arrest you.
What Reason Would a Police Officer Have For Searching Me?
Reasonable suspicion is a subjective view on the part of the police officer. In a court of law, the officer would have to provide concrete proof that a crime was committed. In the moment, however, they have authority to act according to their own judgement.
For example, let’s say a police officer was looking at your Lyft driver’s license and smelled the scent of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. They may then search the vehicle and all of the persons inside it, including any passengers.
The driver may then go scot-free, even though they were the one who was originally pulled over. The passenger, on the other hand, would likely be issued a summons for marijuana possession or even arrested.
If My Driver Is Pulled Over, Will the Police Want to See My License?
Oftentimes at a traffic stop, police will ask to see identification from everyone in the car, including any passengers. As a rule of thumb, it is usually in your best interest to cooperate with a police officer. However you are within your rights to plead the Fifth and neglect to present any personal information.
If an officer runs your license and finds, say, a warrant out for your arrest due to unpaid tickets, it won’t matter whether you were driving the vehicle or not. You will likely be arrested.
Traffic Stops In Uber or Lyft
If you are pulled over while riding in an Uber, Lyft, taxi, or other rideshare, the scenario will likely play out like any ordinary traffic stop. Every traffic stop is circumstantial, and depends on how the cop chooses to handle it.
If you have been issued a summons or arrested at a traffic stop as a passenger in a vehicle, Bloom Legal can help. We have been helping individuals charged with misdemeanors or arrested in New Orleans for over a decade.
Give us a call for a free consultation, and we’ll get right to work for you.