California Driver Handbook and New Laws 2020 

Thanks to the new law the California Driver Handbook 2020 now contains information regarding a person’s civil rights during a traffic stop, such as the right to file a complaint against a peace officer. 

Your Rights During an Enforcement Stop

If you happen to be stopped by a police officer and he or she asks your permission to do something, you have a right to say no. However, you do not have a right to interfere with police officer's actions. It may be so that you say no, but the officer says that this needs to be done anyway. For example, the officer may wish to search your vehicle and they have legal authority to do so under certain circumstances. You may say that you do not give your permission, but you may not resist or obstruct the officer if they anyway need to search your vehicle. 

Which Documents to Provide During an Enforcement Stop

When you are stopped by law enforcement you must produce a driver license, a proof of insurance, and a vehicle registration. However, in California only federal law enforcement officers have the right to ask you about your immigration status. Under California law state and local officers are prohibited from asking driving or passengers about their immigration status. If you are asked about your immigration status by a California law enforcement officer, you can decline to answer. 

The right to record 

The drivers and passengers have the right to record interactions with police in public places under the First Amendment. However, if you are going to record you should immediately make it clear to the officer. Make sure not to reach into concealed areas to retrieve your recording device without the permission of the officer. Your recording must not interfere with the officer's ability to perform job duties. 

Note that even if you believe that your rights were violated you must not manifest violence against the officer or engage in any physical resistance.  

The right to complain

Everyone has a right to file a complaint against any peace officer or law enforcement officer of agency. It is illegal for any government employee to retaliate against you for doing so.
A complaint can be filed with any agency where the officer is employed (i.e. a sheriff’s office, police department, or any other law enforcement agency). After the complaint is filed, the agency that employs the officer must investigate the complaint.


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