Re: Is It Legal To Record Audio or Video of California Traffic Stops
Penal Code sections 630 and 632 cover most the privacy laws regarding the recording of "confidential communications". Typically, CA is a two party state for audio recording ... unless done by the police (we are exempted by statute from the prohibition against recording any conversation we overhear). However, since the key is expectation of privacy, it seems to be unsettled law whether a conversation between an officer and a citizen would be a "confidential communication" as defined in PC 632. Since WE can record the conversation without your knowledge, it is often seen as reasonable to assume that YOU can record it as well.
But, it's not settled law.
I am not aware of any case law on point for this matter, so it could go either way. If you were to introduce - or TRY to introduce - an audio recording or a stop in court, then you MIGHT find it suppressed, and you MIGHT find yourself charged criminally. I suspect, however, that most courts are not going to hammer you for making an audio recording.
Does a police officer have a reasonable expectation of privacy during a traffic stop? Do I need to tell him/her that he/she is being recorded? If so, it seems like a needlessly risky way to escalate the situation. Are there exemptions for precisely that reason?
If this is something you wish to do, I would suggest you consult a local attorney so you might know how the courts in YOUR area feel about the whole thing.
A Nor Cal Police Sergeant
"Make mine a double mocha ...
... and a croissant!"
Walk humbly with your God
-- Courageous, by Casting Crowns