Knowing what to do when pulled over can sometimes be difficult. If it happens while carrying your firearm, it just adds to the stress. Here is our guide on what to do during a traffic stop while carrying a firearm.
Relax...people get pulled over every day. Officers are also used to pulling over people who carry concealed. In the vast majority of cases a traffic stop involving a person legally carrying a firearm is just the same as any other stop.
Just take a breath, and then follow what is outlined below.
State Map and Gun Laws
Before we begin, make sure you bookmark the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws. It is a great resource for checking on laws and updates in your state, as well as others...and is completely free.
What to Do When Pulled Over
After investigating numerous informational sources outlining best practices, and law enforcement interviews, we came up with a comprehensive plan on how to respond when a police officer initiates a CCW traffic stop.
Know Your Laws
Be sure to educate yourself on all your state laws. While this should seem like common sense, laws change. Make sure to make a habit of staying on top of what is happening in your state. Be sure to visit the link mentioned above and check back often. It is a great source for gun laws and is updated regularly.
It is also important to make sure you are knowledgeable on your states traffic laws as well.
Pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. However, if it is not safe to pull over right away, put your hazards on and show them you are complying with the stop.
Dome Light On / Window Down / 10-2
Once you pull over, turn your overhead light on immediately, roll down your window, and place your hands on the 10-2 position. The light allows the officer to see you before approaching the car, it shows how many people are in the car, and where they are located as well.
You are being fully transparent with the officer this way. When the officer approaches the window, keep your hands in a 10-2 position. Do not reach for anything until you have spoken to the officer.
Inform Officer If Required
This section is for states that require you to inform officers of your firearm (Duty to Inform)...or if you would prefer to inform the officer. Many officers will not really care that you are carrying, but it is helpful information for them to have.
The officer will normally ask you, upon approaching the car, why you think you were stopped. You can respond, “First I would like to disclose I have a CCW permit.” Or, if your state has constitutional carry you can say "First I would like to inform you I am carrying concealed."
Do not use the word gun, firearm, weapon, etc. when telling the officer you have a firearm. Officers brains are trained that the moment they hear the word “gun” or “firearm” to engage in other procedures. Stating “CCW” does not trigger any reaction in the police officer.
The police officer will then ask you if you have your weapon on you. Only reply “yes”. The police officer will then ask you where it is located. Keep your hands in a 10-2 position and only describe where your weapon is holstered, do not touch or gesture towards your weapon.
Remember: Know your laws...each state has different laws and the above may be different in your state.
If for any reason you must make a movement, either for registration, license, etc., you should tell the officer exactly what movements you will be making.
For example, “I will be using my right hand to grab my wallet located on the passenger seat. I will keep my left hand on the steering wheel.” Do not make any sudden movements.
Although this seems obvious, many people forget sudden shifting in the driver’s seat, sudden direction in line of sight, etc. Many people are not used to dealing with law enforcement and do not realize the smallest movement or mistake can result in a dangerous situation.
As long as the above procedure is followed in a calm and causal manner, a simple traffic stop should not result in anything but a warning or a traffic ticket. A large majority of traffic stops are not personal in nature, and only about 40% of traffic stops result in a ticket being issued.
Remembering your common sense and proper procedure will keep you, the officer, and your passengers safe.
Make Sure You Have CCW Insurance
You wouldn’t be driving your car without legal coverage, so don’t be carrying your gun without it. Concealed Carry Insurance, or sometimes called Self Defense Insurance is a must! The legal protection we recommend is USCCA due to their great coverage, as well as all the perks that come with being a member.
You can view our article USCCA Review: Concealed Carry Insurance where we looked at the top companies, and why we chose them.
Duty to Inform
We have also included below each state’s law, in alphabetical order, regarding the law when a traffic stop is conducted. The states are broken down into simple categories: DUTY TO INFORM, INFORM IF ASKED, NO DUTY, and NO KNOWN DUTY.
These are as of the date of this article, please look up any changes that may have occurred in your state on your states website.
Alabama: Only if asked
Alaska: Always duty to inform
Arizona: Only if Asked
Arkansas: Duty to inform if asked for identification
California: No duty to inform as state law, however, counties and local ordinances have adopted their own laws. County by county, but most counties have enacted Duty to Inform
Colorado: If Asked
Connecticut: If Asked
Delaware: No Duty, unless Searching a Questioned Person for Weapon
District of Columbia: No known duty to inform
Florida: No known duty to inform
Georgia: No duty to inform
Hawaii: Unknown at this time: concealed carry permitting process is currently in the Appellate Court process
Idaho: No known duty to Inform
Illinois: If Asked
Indiana: No explicit duty to Inform, unless arrested or charged on a firearms violation
Iowa: No known duty to Inform
Kansas: No known duty to inform, however if you are a non-resident in the state then you have a duty to inform
Kentucky: No known duty to inform
Louisiana: Duty to Disclose
Maine: No duty. If you are carrying a concealed weapon not registered then you have a duty to disclose the weapon
Maryland: No known duty to inform
Massachusetts: No known duty to inform
Michigan: Duty to Disclose
Minnesota: No known duty to inform
Mississippi: No known duty to inform
Missouri: No know duty to inform
Montana: No known duty to inform
Nebraska: Duty to Disclose
Nevada: No known duty to inform
New Hampshire: No known duty to inform
New Jersey: No duty to inform, however non-residents are not allowed to obtain a CCW permit
New Mexico: No known duty to inform
New York: No known duty to inform
North Carolina: Duty to disclose
North Dakota: No known duty
Ohio: Duty to Disclose
Oklahoma: Duty to Disclose
Oregon: No known duty to inform
Pennsylvania: No known duty to inform
Rhode Island: Duty to Disclose
South Carolina: Duty to Disclose
South Dakota: No known Duty to Inform
Tennessee: No known duty to inform
Texas: Duty to inform if asked for identification
Utah: No duty
Vermont: No duty
Virginia: No explicit duty to inform, however you must have your CCW permit on your person if you are carrying
Washington: No explicit duty to inform, similar to Virginia
West Virginia: No explicit duty to inform, similar to Virginia
Wisconsin: No duty to inform
Wyoming: No explicit duty, similar to Virginia
*No known duty to inform vs. No duty to inform: No known duty is defined as no current laws prohibiting or permitting duty to disclose. No duty to disclose is defined as statutes that exist granting rights to CCW holders not required to disclose during a traffic stop.
Traffic stops involving citizens carrying a legal firearm is a common occurrence. It happens many thousands of times per day. Knowing how to handle the situation will just make the situation go by fast and easy.
Also, be sure to check out our article 21 Tips For Concealed Carry Success. We provide 21 tips to improve your concealed carry experience!
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