Aston Mills, PA asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Traffic Tickets for Pennsylvania

Q: In Pennsylvania, do drivers have to provide their license, registration, & insurance information to police when stopped?

I was just pulled over by the police. I asked the officer to tell me what was the reason for the stop, however, he insisted I give him my ID before he'd tell me what was the reason for the stop. Come to find out, my registration expired ten days ago. As I explained to the officer, it was clearly an oversight on my part and I updated it and registered my vehicle all while I was awaiting the officer to run my information. He did end up giving me a ticket (I believe mostly because I challenged him).

Was I wrong in the way I handled this? I am not familiar or accustomed to traffic stops and in today's day and age, please forgive me for being a little Leary. I know that the police can randomly run my tags, but I'm suspicious of the reason why it was done to begin with. I also don't want to throw the element of race into the equation, but I am an African American male and it was 215am.

1 Lawyer Answer
Timothy Kraeer
Timothy Kraeer
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Pottsville, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Based on what you've written, I don't think you did anything wrong. Most officers, at least those I've interacted with, will run license plates randomly or really whenever they are driving behind someone. A lot of police cars are also now equipped with automatic license plate readers, so when vehicles drive by, the device picks up the plate and feeds the information to their laptop. I think it's likely given the time of night, the officer thought there was a DUI possibility and the registration issue gave him cause to make the traffic stop.

That said, if you get the registration issue resolved, you should plead not guilty and attend the hearing or hire an attorney to attend for you. The officer or the court may be willing to withdraw/dismiss the citation if you bring proof you fixed the registration issue.

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