RVer safety: How much info should you give if you’re pulled over?


By Mike Sherman

Last week’s article on carrying a weapon in an RV generated a lot of interest. I have heard from readers throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. I’ve been retired for several years now and it quickly became apparent I lack knowledge on current laws.

As previously stated, our goal with this column is to engage in a general discussion of ideas and thoughts, to promote a dialog that can give others a deeper understanding and greater insight into RVer safety and self-protection. My comments are not to be considered sound legal doctrine, just opinions based on experiences. We are all the product of our environment and life experiences, so there will seldom be absolutely perfect answers on a very complicated subject. Those with specific questions should always consult their local law enforcement jurisdiction or legal counsel.

With that in mind, I’m addressing one reader’s comment on the subject of “To cooperate or not to cooperate.”

From Dave:

Dear Mike:
My question concerns your comment: “While there is a fragmented aspect to the legal ramifications of carrying a weapon through the various states one might travel, survival is obviously the goal when dealing with any emergency. Having said that, it is important that I stress the importance of always being truthful with any investigating authority in the event you are confronted with questions like, ‘Do you have any weapons on board?’ Always be honest!”

I definitely agree at all times to be courteous and respectful to law enforcement personnel.

However, if at a “traffic stop” (which has never happened to me) an officer asks if I have any weapons within my RV (my home), I plan to only provide the officer with my driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance – which I am required by law to provide. And I will politely not respond to the question.

I am not required to say where I am headed, if I have any weapons in my vehicle or other non-traffic-stop questions. Your thoughts? —Dave

Mike’s response:

Dear Dave:
I would highly recommend you reconsider your stance. The officer might be stopping you for a non-traffic related reason. Perhaps your vehicle matches the description of a suspect involved in a crime. Maybe his information is vague, but there is sufficient “probable cause” to stop you for a perfectly legitimate investigation.

If you refuse to answer any questions, you could easily find yourself in the back seat of the squad car. The officer has every right to question you to a greater or lesser degree depending on a host of circumstances and reasons. It is almost common to be asked if you have any weapons or drugs on board even for a routine traffic stop.

The officer has a right to know if you are armed. Suppose it’s for a traffic violation. He needs to feel secure in dealing with you. Cops have been shot while writing out a citation in their patrol car … not noticing the driver got out of their car and is quickly walking back toward the officer.

Suppose the driver fled a restaurant without paying for the meal. The restaurant calls the police. They are given a description and other facts that might be helpful. The food server might say, “He said he was headed to so-and-so” when placing his order. The officer is not sure if he stopped the correct vehicle, so he proceeds with his investigation and will ask, “Where are you headed?” as part of the inquiry.

If you refuse to answer, are uncooperative and display a defiant attitude, the officer might assume you are the correct suspect. He may have a fellow officer get the waiter or waitress and do a “drive-by” to see if you are positively identified. All of this takes time.

To “resist, delay or obstruct” an officer in the performance of his duties is a thin line to walk. Most states have statutes arming the police with a host of tools that could cause you a great deal of problems. If they have probable cause to stop you, they have probable cause to question you. You are not a POW with a mandate to provide only a name/rank/serial number.

If the officer has the wrong man, he’ll realize it soon enough after his interrogation. It’s perfectly legal – you need not be under arrest for him to query you. The U.S. Supreme Court has given officers a broad field in which to operate and I would hate to see you be on the losing end of a situation while maintaining that your refusal to answer questions is your right to resist.

It truly is in your best interest to simply answer his/her questions then be on your way, free as a bird. I hope you can understand my reasoning. Thanks for asking my thoughts.

Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.

RVer safety: How much info should you give if you're pulled over?Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at [email protected] if you have questions or comments.


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Along a related matter is how to respond if an LEO asks to search your vehicle. An LEO is perfectly legal to ask and if he has probable cause can search without consent. However in the case where there is no probable cause I would respond to a request for a search by asking the LEO what he is looking for. If his explanation to that question sounds to me like a fishing expedition I would refuse. However if the LEO convinces me he has a valid reason, ie recent carjacking or crime then I would allow with restrictions. If… Read more »


A lot of states “require” you to inform the officer if you are armed (weapon in vehicle), which the common term used is “Duty to Inform”. There are some good websites that list state laws; I would definitely recommend reading them. When I travel, I check a concealed carry website, read and print the rules for the states I will be traveling. Additionally, there are some states that you do not even want to “think” about having a loaded weapon inside your vehicle with you; automatic trip to jail. If in doubt, keep it unloaded, locked, ammo separate in the… Read more »


Am I being detained or am I free to go? If I’m being detained what is your suspicion officer that “I” am engaged in an illegal activity? Those are the only true questions that are at issue from a traffic stop or otherwise. EVERYTHING else is just a fishing expedition by the officer and you would be ill advised to not get on his hook. “Show me your papers” is what you would expect in a communist country not here in the Red White and Blue. Here we have rights that were paid for in blood. Don’t cheapen the memory… Read more »


Why make it hard on everyone? Treat the Officer with the same common courtesy and respect you expect from him? A lot of people get on these sites and complain about the Officer, when after reading their statements they are actually the problem, not the Cop.

Gene Bennington

I live in Ohio and have a CCW (concealed carry weapon) permit. If I’m carrying while driving, the first thing I do when entering my vehicle is place my wallet (contains CCW permit, drivers license and insurance paper) within easy reach so if I’m stopped by police, I don’t have to bend down or move around a lot to retreive my wallet. If you move around a lot, the officier may think you are reaching for a weapon or trying to hide something. When pulled over, I put my window down, grab wallet, turn on inside lights (if dark out)… Read more »


According to the “Legal Heat” app, all but 11 states honor the Ohio permit. That would be 39.

Ohio honors the permits from the other 49 states.

It only takes a minute to check the latest information using the app.


Put rear window down if you can without moving or reaching into the back seat. Lots of vehicles have very dark rear windows and it is scary as all get out walking up on a vehicle in these times of cops being shot left and right. Hands on steering wheel at 2 and 10 o’clock. Wait for the police officer to see that you are not a threat and then simply comply with the requests. They are not going to ask you to do anything that waives your constitutional rights once they see you are not a threat and cooperating.… Read more »


Not even remotely true. Here in NY, an otherwise absurdly legal CCW ran seriously afoul of our idiotic “SAFE” laws by loading 8 rounds into his magazine when you’re only “allowed” 7. He was arrested and prosecuted far more aggressively than a mass murderer. Yes, laws and police can be THAT stupid, so I don’t offer myself up.

Donald Tucker

Cooperate fully and if you feel your rights have been violated file a complaint with the agency immediately after the incident. With the increased use of body cams and such it is easy enough to document such encounters.


Until the LEO threatens me, I am polite. I also have my OWN camera running, and it’s saved me several tickets from “paper hangers” who were caught breaking the law themself.

Chris S.

Dave, thank you for the great comment/question and Mike, I think you hit the nail on the head. I would agree with you 100%. I think far to often avoidable instances occur when routine stops are escalated because of a possible suspect being unwilling to fully cooperate and/or not being forthright.

Lynn Decker

The idea that David puts forth seems ridiculous to me and counter productive. Why, if you have done nothing wrong, would you “politely refuse to answer?” Do you really think that the police officer is going to take your polite refusal lightly? You have just set yourself up as being guilty based on your evasion. I think you are just setting yourself up for a world of hurt by being passive aggressive.


Some really interesting perspectives here. Try crossing the border from the U.S to Canada or vice versa and tell the border people “I have nothing to say”. They will have something to say and it will be, at the very least, “Turn your vehicle around and don’t come back. We now have your plate in our computer system.” If you have nothing to hide why not cooperate and answer the questions.

Dave Hagen

My name is Dave and I disagree with the Dave mentioned in the post. I was stopped by an Arizona State Policeman last month near Quartzsite. I was doing 73 in a 55 MPH zone. I answered all of his questions, including where I was going and where I was staying while in Arizona. All of my legal paperwork was in order. The trooper ended up just giving me a written warning instead of a big ticket, saying he appreciated my co-operation.



John Karlson

Suggest the “carrier” of a firearm in their RV educate themselfs on the laws of whatever state they are traveling into.

As an example, my concealed permit from CT is NOT legal in any other state, and in CT if you are passing through-and carrying a concealed firearm you are in violation of CT weapons laws. So how do you answer the question when the CT trooper asked a non resident if he/she is carrying a firearm in their RV?


According to the “Legal Heat” app, 23 states honor the CT permit but – as you state – CT recognizes only those permits from CT.


MI honors it if it is held by a resident of the issuing state

My point being for everyone … why not go to an up to date authoritative source for the answers? It only takes a minute and the laws may have changed.

John R McConnell

Federal law provides that a person can transport a secured weapon thru a state such as Ct. You must have it locked in a case and stored in a location separate from any ammunition.

Patrick Granahan

If an officer pulls you over he runs your plate before he starts the conversation.
If you have an outstanding warrant he will know it.
If you have a concealed handgun carry permit you must tell him immediately !
If you do not have a permit and have a loaded firearm in your vehicle ..Good-Luck !

I always carry a loaded concealed handgun….kinda like a parachute….comes in handy
when you need it…..if you need it and don’t have it you probably will never need one again.


“If you have a concealed handgun carry permit you must tell him immediately !”

Why? My understanding is only if asked.


If you are carrying, in certain states you MUST NOTIFY that you are carrying when stopped. Ohio comes to mind. If you have a CCW and are not carrying keep your mouth shut. What I have always done as someone said up the line. (1) turn interior light on, (2) get your license, registration, insurance, and ccw out before the cop gets to your window. (3)Have your window open with your hands on TOP of steering wheel or out the window. (4) If there are others in the vehicle, front seat, hands on dash, rear seat left, window down and… Read more »


I don’t think most officers would even ask the firearms question in a case where it is primarily a traffic stop only…and the driver should probably know it in that case anyway. I hope that readers of RV Travel.com don’t get this question and from reading the newsletter for many years I’m pretty sure that’s true. I’d be willing to bet that if an officer is prompted to ask the “question” he is likely dealing with a possible known repeat offender of some sort, or has some other clues that the person he’s about to deal with may be more… Read more »

Mike Sherman

Some officers ask, some don’t, but always if they know the driver with a criminal background. You would be surprised at some of the responses. Also, engaging in any conversation with the driver is simply routine. How else is the officer going to know if they slurred their words?


I”ll give you another perspective. Assuming you didn’t pull my son over for weaving or otherwise “visibly drunk driving” why does it matter if he does slur his words? Judging his speech would be WRONG. He also has Tourettes, and is more likely to say something stupid accidentally than you are to catch anything “real.” He has an official ADA protected diagnosis and cannot be legally held responsible for whatever absurdities or obscenities he may blurt out. He carries a card to that effect, and is directed to give it to authorities in stressful situations before speaking a word. But… Read more »

Bill Semion

lf you’re a Michigan resident, liberal or not (see one responder’s not-needed added comment that has nothing to do with this discussion), with a CPL, your license plate first gives you away that you have a CPL license, as the officer, when looking it up in his/her computer, can quickly see either you do or don’t. Second it’s only courtesy, especially these days, to inform the officer; he/she’s nervous enough as it is, as traffic stops can go awry in a hurry, and third, in Michigan, I believe you’re required to notify the stopping officer that you have a permit,… Read more »

Billy Bob Thorton

Well, be prepared to get in some trouble if you are in a state that does not recognize your own states permit. Until the 50 state issue is challenged at SCOTUS, be prepared to hear these words ” put your hands up”. Oh Canada, they had their guns taken away years ago. I think it’s called ” no constitutional right to bear arms”, or something like that!


Really??? That would come as a surprise to millions of Canadian gun owners.

David Howard

Some states, like Illinois where I reside, require you to tell the officer if you are armed if you are asked. While you are not required, as some states do require you to inform the officer immediately that you are armed, when asked you are obligated to inform him or her. Failing to do could result in the suspension or revocation of your license to carry a concealed firearm.

Billy Bob Thorton

Again, when a state tries to usurp a federal constitutional right, and I emphasize “right” by passing state laws, those laws, if challenged, have a greater likelihood of being stuck, given the recent appointments of the last two SCJs. IMO
As always, respect the police, but never relinquish your rights, as stated in the second amendment. I suspect that the recent challenge out of the liberal state of New York, regarding legal transport of firearms, will be stuck, since the court has more constitutionist minded justices. Hope I’m right.


We currently have several con-law cases to be heard towards the end of this month. One was a CCW who cooperated to an absurd level, resulting in the LEO actually counting the rounds in his magazine and arresting him for violating NY-SAFE’s half-full magazine law. No other charges filed, so imagine how DEEP that fishing expedition had to go into illegal- search territory.

Stop it

My wife has a CC permit. And she carries. I don’t have a permit, or carry. Pulled over in Illinois and my wife informed the cop. The cop gave me a ticket for having loaded weapon in the truck. He claimed that as the operator, I was responsible for the weapon. He confiscated the gun and we never got it back. See what happens when you cooperate.


I’d like to snidely say something about “Ignorant Illinois” having absurd hoplophobia, but IL mostly legalized CCW and now NY has easily surpassed the rest of the nation on stupid CCW laws. All of that snarking aside, I’ve had a similar concerns with my wife, but I *believe* if you’re allowed to keep your sidearm on your person, no one else in the car matters. I’d have to research IL law, but I’m somewhat dubious that the operator takes responsibility as long as it’s otherwise legally carried/store/transported by someone allowed to possess it. Sounds like an illegal forfeiture to me.

Tom Wilson

Mike, we were told in our CHL training about 10 years ago that if stopped by law enforcement for any reason, the best thing to do is to hand the CHL along with the driver’s license to the officer. The thought was that it would open the conversation for the officer to ask about weapons. Then when he did, to tell him where they were and leave it to him how to proceed. After all that has happened in law enforcement over the last few years, is this still good advice?

Mike Sherman

I believe so.

Billy Bob Thorton

Ditto, no disrespect to the retired police officer, however, you are a law abiding citizen (assumed), that being the case, you should be polite, courteous but provide only the necessary information requested. One caveat, one liberal state has made it required to re-apply for your carry permit, thus building a state database of gun holders in that state (guess which state). Therefore, that being the case, you need to address your reply to the questioning officer appropriately.

Joe Allen

Excellent answer Mike to the question about being stopped and questioned. One should always cooperate with law enforcement as they are just doing their job and we can make it easier or harder for them. I have had a concealed carry for over 30 years and never had to pull my weapon. However, when pulled over, I have my drivers license and CCW in my hand and explain to the officers that I have a loaded weapon and it’s on me. I fully respect law enforcement and the perilous duties they perform each and every day and in the end,… Read more »


If you have a smartphone, get the app called “Legal Heat”.

Always up to date it covers all 50 states.


Don’t take legal advice from an RV internet board, or the comments section, for that matter.
You do not have to say anything.
Look up “consensual conversation”.
If an officer asks you anything like “where are you headed”, you can say 5 words: “I have nothing to say”.
Some may not like this comment.

Joe Allen

Why would you make a law enforcement job harder?

C Bradford

Why would you make it easier for them to find something to lock you up for. Most conversations with them are just fishing expeditions.
If they pulled you over for speeding then just give me the speeding tax paperwork!


That type of answer only raises more suspicion and causes more inquiry from the officer. It will turn a 3 -5 minute traffic stop into a 30 minute or longer along with a officer requested assistance and possibly a K9 unit. So if you have time to waste just for the sake of “consensual conversation”. Then knock yourself out!

Diana Sherman

So true! You can be defiant all the way to the police station in the back of a squad car. Let’s assume you’re on your way to a glorious weekend away with your family and need to get there to set up your RV before dark…who will drive your RV then? What a way to ruin a perfectly great weekend. Just answer the officer. Their job is protect the community. Not to ruin your day.

stop it

the police job is to generate money for the state, local or county.

Stop it

I have never encountered a 3 – 5 minute traffic stop.

Patricia Harvey

Why do you want to search everyone’s vehicle for a traffic stop no probable cause there and if I didn’t expect privacy in my vehicle why do I have locks on it if there aren’t enough criminals they just make more laws world would be a better place if the government didn’t know what’s best for me I’d rather be free to do what I know is best for me not being locked up for someone else’s laws if you can’t be with me 24 hours a day then who’s going to protect me


Yeah, great advice. Especially if encountering an officer who’s had a tough day, or is under time pressure to deal with an emergency.

“Freedumb’s” just another word for nothing left to lose.


Staying silent is legally right, pragmatically wrong. Antagonizing with “I have nothing to say” is similarly legal but stupid. If there’s ANYTHING the LEO can spot wrong (mud on your plate?), you’re less likely to get leniency by doing that. Somewhere below I say not to offer information or respond to fishing, but I also said repeatedly to be polite at ALL times.

Chuck Laubach

There is always at least one in any crowd. In my state you can be arrested for any law violation except speeding and open container. You sir, are setting yourself up for a ride to the jail, an overnight stay with strangers you don’t know, an impounded vehicle with impound fee, a bond or fine, then the cost of getting to your vehicle. Is “I have nothing to say” worth that?

Rory R

I have only been stopped a few times and twice I was asked if I had a weapon. I responded, a shot gun, unloaded and stored in basement storage. The officer thanked me, wished me a good safe trip. Folded up his book, walked to his patrol car and drove away. What is the big deal, if you have a weapon say so. If you tick him off, there is the inconvenient extra delay, and if a search does occur before or after your arrest, there will be hell to pay. Or you could be rolling down the hi-way….


A long time ago a very good friend of the family (a police chief in New Jersey) told me that the best thing to do if you are pulled over by police, is to include your carry permit with you drivers license and registration, to let the office know you have a legal permitted weapon in your vehicle. The best thing is to be right up front with the officer.

Patrick Granahan

This is an interesting and complex subject. First if the officer asks if you have any firearms in your tow vehicle (car, truck or SUV) you must answer that question. Your travel trailer is another matter. It is not a motor vehicle…..it is your home. Law enforcement must obtain a search warrant in order to search your home. In many states they must obtain a search warrant to search your car (unless the firearm is in open sight). Additional laws might also apply. As an example if I am approached by a law enforcement officer in my home state of… Read more »

Jeff Arthur

I was told by a gun dealer in Ohio that if you’re pulled over in another state ,that state doesn’t have access to the Ohio data base so they don’t know if you do in fact have a CCW. I’m curious to this bit of information being accurate?
I try to have the best information I can get on matters of being totally legal at all times.
Even getting the latest printed state laws is confusing at times as it seems to contradict itself


Mike, as a former LEO and current instructor I agree with your answer to Dave’s question. Anytime I am approached by an officer requesting my I.D. for any reason, my driver’s license and CCW permit are together in my shirt pocket so they require no “digging around” to retrieve. I request permission to go to that pocket while keeping both hands in clear view and then present him with both. If I am in a state that requires it, I advise the officer while handing him my I.D.’s, “As required by state law and as a professional courtesy I’m advising… Read more »

Safety Instructor

Not surprisingly, this article is written from the perspective of the LEO. They do an unpredictable, difficult job, so I try not to make that job any harder. That said, it does skirt the legal and citizen-ethics aspects of the question. The original poster is CORRECT that there is no obligation to give more information than relevant to the “cause” for detainment. Keep in mind, a traffic stop is still detainment requiring a legal cause. If you appear to have broken a law (speeding, broken lights) or resemble a BOLO profile, the LEO has the right to stop you exactly… Read more »

Tom Rastall

Reminds me of the Florida man driving through Maryland with his family. A police officer got behind his vehicle and noticed he was from Florida, a gun friendly state. Now this officer obviously had a personal agenda against citizens possessing firearms. The officer had dispatch call Florida and learned the driver had a CCP. The officer stopped him for speeding and demanded the driver tell him where his firearm was. The driver said he knew he would be driving through Maryland so he left it home back in Florida. An hour later after complete search of the vehicle and family… Read more »


I’ve always wondered why citizens aren’t required to do the same? Common sense.

Patrick Granahan

FYI….North Carolina requires an 8 hour classroom course in handgun laws, use of deadly force and gun safety….followed by a shooting test at various shooting distances.
After that you submit your test results to your county sheriffs department. They process your application, completing an extensive background and records check…..after that if you pass you are issued a concealed handgun carry permit.
Every state has a slightly different set of hoops applicants must clear before they can obtain a carry permit.
Citizens who are not informed and listen to liberal politicians seem to
think concealed carry permits are handed out like candy at Halloween.


Join the discussion…


Tom, I agree, never smoked pot or any drugs for that matter but have lots of guns, avid outdoorsman and RVer but have come across ALOT of Over Zealous cops in my time and its terrible what they can do to a person. They have a tough job and its worst now than ever but Remember 1 thing most cops are marginal in their knowledge of the law especially the small town guys and the one thing that gets them weak in the knees is facing off with a Good Attorney. Oh something to mention I have driven a truck… Read more »


I’ve seen a lot more zealous politicians and Administrators at the station. The patrol guys are USUALLY good folks, feeling pressure from the jerks above them. “We need $50,000 in revenue this month — go write enough tickets to raise some cash!” whether or not people are “really” speeding. You’ll see towns post 25mph zones 100 feet long in the middle of a 55mph rural highway. You get the picture. Law enforcement should NEVER have been coupled with revenue collection because now PDs are rewarded for creating criminals for profit. As for judging a book — we all assume LEO… Read more »


That’s obvious harassment; I really hope the driver sued the officer PERSONALLY (not the PD unless they contributed). Far and away, most LEOs support citizen CCW, but just have to watch out for themselves. Outside of traffic stops, I’ve gotten into friendly discussions with LEOs about what we’re each carrying. Cops are generally NOT your enemy. I just keep them honest on principle, including gently educating them to avoid giving loopholes or putting themself in danger with actual bad guys. In the case above, had the LEO actually discovered drugs while conducting an ILLEGAL search for a gun he was… Read more »

Roy Ellithorpe

What on earth do you do that gets you stopped so often?


The thread’s long so I’m not sure if you’re asking me, but I assume so. I’m on the NY/Canadian border, and we get “a lot” of Border Patrol roadblocks. Supposedly, a lot of illegal stuff and human trafficking comes through here bound elsewhere. I’m told ICE/BP stops are much more obnoxious in the southern border towns, where BP adds 10mins to a friend’s commute almost EVERY day. Legally, I think they are considered authorized as long as they stop everyone, although my understanding of the law suggests they would have better grounds if they DID profile a suspected “Big Green… Read more »

James Wiles

Your answer is completely correct. I have a conceal to carry license and if I am stopped I make sure to give it to the officer along with my license. It is perfectly legal for me to have a firearm and I will not try to hide it. The officer will find out when he runs my license so I don’t want to make him feel like I am hiding anything. It would only be worse if I don’t co-operate.

Don Lee

My son who has a conceal carry permit in Ohio was stopped by an Ohio Highway Patrol officer on a routine traffic stop. He produced the required license and registration, but never gave it a thought to declare to the officer that he was carrying. After running his license information the officer said that his information indicated that my son had the permit and asked if he was carrying at that moment. When my son said yes, the officer asked if he was aware that he could be immediately arrested for not declaring on board weapons at the moment the… Read more »


I have the utmost respect for our law enforcement officials-retired or active. Thank you for your service. I have a NC CCW permit and in this state we are required to immediately declare if we are carrying or not. Different states treat that requirement differently, but I always declare immediately. My feeling is that if I were on the other side of the door in the police officers shoes-I would want to know. My wife and I travel the 50 states and most places I am carrying. I have found the APP ‘Legal Heat” very helpful when trying to keep… Read more »