Know your rights when driving

If you are detained while driving, it most likely will be a police officer rather than U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. However, if you are driving along border states, you may be pulled over by Border Patrol and could encounter Border Patrol checkpoints.

If you are pulled over by police, it is better if you can drive away with a ticket rather than having to go to a police precinct, since going to a precinct may increase the chance you are referred to ICE. While we provide some guidelines below, you must do what feels safest in the moment.

What should I do if I am pulled over by the police?

  • Stop your vehicle and turn on the emergency lights. Slowly lower the window and place your hands in a visible location.
  • Show your license, registration, and proof of insurance upon an officer’s request.
  • If you don’t have a driver’s license do not show any false documents. Generally, it’s not recommended to show foreign IDs such as passports to law-enforcement. But, if you believe that showing your passport will result in getting a ticket instead of being brought to a police precinct, it might make sense to show it.
  • Do not answer any questions related to your immigration status or about your country of origin.
  • You have the right to remain silent. You may say: “I WANT TO EXERCISE MY RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT” and “I WANT TO SPEAK WITH A LAWYER”
  • If the officer asks for permission to search your vehicle, you have the right to not consent to any search. Say: “I DO NOT CONSENT TO ANY SEARCH.” The officer cannot search your vehicle without a proper warrant unless there is reasonable suspicion.

What if I am pulled over by Border Patrol?

  • Border Patrol can pull you over if they have reasonable suspicion of an immigration violation or a crime, and they may ask questions about your immigration status.
  • They are not supposed to use race or ethnicity as a reason to stop you, so if you believe this is happening, make sure you document it.
  • Border Patrol can continue to detain you to inquire about your immigration status, but they cannot force you to speak or to sign anything.
  • While Border Patrol checkpoints may exist within 100 miles of any U.S. border including an airport, due to resources in New York, they are mostly found near the Northern border with Canada.