Skip to main content

Do i have to take off my sun glases if asked by a officer of the law , when there is no probable cause

Thousand Oaks, CA |

no prob. cause, did not break any laws and in or out of a car

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

No. You do not have to take your sun glasses off. In fact, I recommend leaving them on. When you're pulled over, the police are trying to put together enough evidence to make an arrest. Almost every DUI police report I've read says two things:

1. "strong odor of alcohol", and
2. that the suspect had "glassy eyes."

Now of course these observations are often untrue and falsely asserted in the police report, but they can't even pretend you had "glassy eyes" if you were wearing sunglasses. And imagine if they check off the "glassy eyes" box anyway? That's a pretty good officer credibility argument.

Mark as helpful

5 lawyers agree

9 comments

Joann Leigh Pheasant

Joann Leigh Pheasant

Posted

Be polite and say, "I'd prefer not to". If the officer says he can get a warrant to have you remove them or search your car respond politely that you are not agreeing to a search and he is welcome to get a warrant. Often the threat of being able to easily "get a warrant" is bogus. If the officer has probable cause he can get a warrant but this tact is often a bluff.

John M. Kaman

John M. Kaman

Posted

You know all these answers are theoretical. That doesn't mean they are incorrect but in practice refusing a request/order from a police officer may make you wish you had complied. Reminds me of the story where black suspect asked if he was being detained. Answer was no. Suspect replied then I can walk away. Cop says yes. Black suspects turns to walk away and the cops jump him. That was a big lawsuit here in SF but the poor suspect, who was just asserting a right, had to have his face wired together. The moral is be careful how you assert what you think is a constitutional right. You are arguing with a man who has a loaded gun at his side.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

Genuine wisdom from an attorney who never gets forgets that Avvo questions are from real people about real situations involving real cops.

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Posted

First let me say that I completely agree with Ms. Pheasant. Your refusal to take your sunglasses off should certainly be polite. I also believe, however, that the advice you've gotten from Mr. Kaman and Ms. McCall here is downright dangerous. Both of those attorneys are far more experienced than I am, but I cannot endorse their opinions that you should just comply with police requests to avoid pissing them off; not if you have a reason avoid complying with said requests. Do I believe that you should keep your sunglasses on just to be a pain in the cop's ass? No. But the absolute worst thing you can do during a police encounter/investigation is to volunteer evidence. My colleagues have not considered that your eyes are evidence. Taking your glasses off can be the reason you get arrested or even the reason you get convicted. Doing so not only shows the officer the true condition of your eyes, but also permits the officer to misinterpret his/her observations Mr. Kaman cautions you against refusing a request/order from a police officer, but doesn't warn you to use caution when doing so. Why is the officer asking you to take your glasses off? To collect evidence to arrest you and get you charged with a crime... There's no rational officer safety issue there. If the officer asks you to confess to a crime, Mr. Kaman's caution against refusing officer requests would suggest you do so. Does the officer's loaded gun trump your 4th and 5th amendment rights? Absolutely NOT. Most police requests are attempts to get you to give up your rights. That's what they want. Because it's what they want, it's also what you DON'T want. It is reasonable to fear police brutality, but most police officers aren't out there to beat on people who assert their rights. I'm as distrustful of law enforcement as one can be, but I still see that what most of them are trying to do with a police encounter is build evidence. Taking your sunglasses off can be the final piece of evidence they need (or fabricate) that leads to your arrest or conviction. I'd rather get beaten by the police and paid than arrested and convicted of something because of my willingness to give up my rights. I suppose I was incorrect to just assume you had a real reason to seek to want to keep your sunglasses on. You did say that you hadn't broken any laws, but you mentioned a car and I believe that this encounter was, at least at some stage (and in the cop's mind), an investigation for DUI. If your question was really "If I want to be a pain in a cop's ass and keep my sunglasses on when he asks me to take them off" I might agree with Ms. McCall and Mr. Kaman, but that's not how I interpreted your question. A REAL person in a REAL situation involving a REAL cop under a REAL investigation should not volunteer evidence just to keep a cop happy. You want to make cops happy? Donate to their annual fund. Do NOT hand over evidence and cooperate with their investigation against you. Laying down and ignoring your rights to make a cop happy? Bad idea.

Joann Leigh Pheasant

Joann Leigh Pheasant

Posted

For what it's worth, my mother was on a jury where the determining issue was whether or not the defendant's eyes were red. Defendant was wearing glasses with a pink hue (ok, it was the early 80's.) My conservative 100% Scandinavian mother voted for acquittal because she had a co-worker who had the same kind of glasses and she thought it made his eyes look red on a regular basis.

John M. Kaman

John M. Kaman

Posted

Yes, son you do indeed need a little experience, including learning how to read properly. I never recommended foregoing a constitutional right to avoid a beating. However there is no constitutional right to wear sunglasses and there is a good argument to be made that a cop cannot be fully sure of your identification while you are wearing them. Beyond that it is ridiculous to assert you have the right to shade your eyes from the police because a full view would reveal that you are either drunk or stoned. Go back to your law books, and take your head out of your derrière.

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Posted

Sorry, Dad. I was wearing sunglasses while reading your post. But through those dark lenses it very much did appear that your post was suggesting people ought to generally acquiesce to police requests because police have guns at their side and beat a black person for walking away from them... And you left evidence (your above post)...just as you suggested the asker do by revealing his eyes to an officer when he doesn't want to. And while I like your ID argument, not being identified might be the asker's objective. And it is perhaps you who could stand a thicker pair of lenses. You've misinterpreted my showing of respect for your experience as an admission, by me, that I may need more of it. We've each offered our honest opinions. In my answer, I cautioned the asker to take your (rather impressive) experience into account when deciding. And we're just not going to agree on this one. I believe police encounters definitely require some polite deference to the officer, but it is important that citizens confidently assert their rights. Police officers see rights as obstacles. They're doing their best to get around them; why should citizens remove the obstacles themselves? When the question is whether the asker "(has) to" take his sunglasses off, I agree with your advice to be careful how you assert a right. But I also believe that politely refusing to remove sunglasses during a DUI investigation would create more defense angles in the event of an eventual arrest. So...still, my suggested response to a police officer asking you to remove your sunglasses when you don't want him to see your eyes (whether it's because your allergies make your eyes red, you're drunk/high, or you don't want to be ID'd): "I'd rather not, (those lights are pretty bright/it's quite sunny)" It shouldn't get anyone beaten up. Camera Phones and YouTube are your friend and bodyguard when it comes to police beatings. Of course if you really have no reason to keep the officer from seeing your eyes, just comply.

John M. Kaman

John M. Kaman

Posted

Dear Son, Consider this: when you enter a courtroom the bailiff usually reads off a list of instructions to the great unwashed. Included among these are to remove hats and sunglasses ( as well as to turn off cellphones and not speak to prisoners). Even though a coutroom is a special place don't you find unconstitutional that without probable cause or reasonable suspicion a bailiff can order you to take off your sunglasses? Of course I realize you are learning son and may not have been to court yet so you may be at a disadvantage.

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Posted

I've been to court plenty, thank you. I find your most recent comment to be beneath your intelligence. It doesn't even take a lawyer to see how irrelevant that courtroom example is. If our government ever gets so out of hand as to make us walk through metal detectors just to leave our homes (i.e. enter the "public"), I will reconsider your lousy example.

Posted

I agree with Mr. Loncar. Often officers will state things like that and in court it is treated as a request rather than an order. It is unclear what the circumstances were surrounding this incident. If you were arrested, you should ist down with an attorney.

This is not intended as individual legal advice and there is no attorney client relationship established by this answer. It is advisable that you seek individualized legal assistance. This is not a substitute for hiring an attorney.

Mark as helpful

4 lawyers agree

Posted

The responses provided here are sound LEGAL responses. But the practicalities and realities of the situation may be a bit different. You don't take off the glasses, you convince the officer that you have something to conceal. Something the officer will see (and report) anyway. And you annoy him/her. If s/he winds up arresting you, s/he takes them off for you (so they won't/can't be used as a weapon). Some would argue that provoking the officer when you are hooked up for DUI is not a sound strategy, because it can lead to a number of small additional incremental aggravations for your case. But I guess opinions can differ on that.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

Mark as helpful

2 lawyers agree

1 comment

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Nicholas Milan Loncar

Posted

I disagree with the argument that complying is a good idea because noncompliance shows that you're hiding something. If you really do have something to hide, you would want to hide it, right? If you don't have anything to hide, they will not see anything to report and arrest you for. If you had a bag of marijuana under your passenger seat you wouldn't tell the officer... so if you'd been drinking or smoking marijuana, it would be unwise to show the officer your eyes just to show him you're not trying to "conceal" something. Additionally, a pissed off cop who has to deal with more obstacles (you asserting your rights at every stage) might be more likely to make the kind of mistake that can get your case thrown out. The officer is going to be more likely to think he has probable cause if he/she's pissed off at you and might search or arrest too soon. If you hand over all the evidence he/she needs and confess, you've got no shot.

Posted

Legally you are probably on sound footing to politely say to the officer that unless it is required you prefer to keep your glasses on. Now practically it's probably not a sound tactic. Reality is that upsetting a police officer in the field comes with a price. The price depends on how professional the police officer is and how experienced. You draw the wrong police officer and you can find yourself spending a few hours appeasing a manufactured investigation.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

4 lawyers agree

Police misconduct topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics