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How to Handle Traffic Stops While Transporting Firearms

UPDATE: As of March 14, 2022 SB215 has been signed by Governor Mike DeWine but has not yet taken effect. Until SB215 takes effect in June, the information in this article is correct and up to date.


Most gun owners are conscientious about following the rules for transporting a weapon, and have nothing to fear if pulled over by a police officer, as long as they are not in violation of any other laws. But what do you need to know about traffic stops while you are transporting firearms?

How to handle traffic stops when transporting firearms Call Dearie Fischer & Mathews attorneys with help after a traffic citation.jpeg

Always Disclose that You are Carrying a Firearm

First of all, if you are pulled over, you must be honest and upfront with the officer about the presence of any firearm in your vehicle.

If you have a concealed carry permit, you must disclose that you have a gun on your person or in your vehicle.

If you do not have a concealed carry permit recognized in Ohio, the gun should already be unloaded, and carried in one of the four ways allowed under Ohio law:

(1) In a closed package, box, or case;

(2) In a compartment that can be reached only by leaving the vehicle;

(3) In plain sight and secured in a rack or holder made for the purpose;

(4) If the firearm is at least twenty-four inches in overall length as measured from the muzzle to the part of the stock furthest from the muzzle and if the barrel is at least eighteen inches in length, either in plain sight with the action open or the weapon stripped, or, if the firearm is of a type on which the action will not stay open or which cannot easily be stripped, in plain sight (ORC 2923.16 (C)).

Once you have alerted the officer of the presence of a weapon:

• Always keep your hands in sight of the officer, and follow all officer’s instructions.

• Do not reach for your gun or touch your gun unless the officer asks you to.

Vehicle Searches at Traffic Stops

An officer cannot search your vehicle without probable cause.  That is, an officer must have a good reason to believe that illegal activity is afoot before conducting a search of your vehicle.

The presence of a weapon in the vehicle, as long as it is disclosed and transported correctly, is not a violation of the law. Having a gun in your vehicle does not by itself give an officer probable cause to search your vehicle. However, simply failing to reveal that you have a gun could result in serious charges if the officer finds another reason to search your car and later discovers it, even if you committed no other offense.

For more on violations of firearms handling in a motor vehicle, se our related article:Improper Handling of a Firearm in a Motor Vehicle

What are some things that may give an officer probable cause to search your vehicle?

Illegal drugs or other contraband in plain sight.

Evidence of criminal activity.

A drug K-9 detects the presence of illegal substances.

You give your consent for a vehicle search.

OVI and Firearms Possession

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while in possession of a gun could also result in charges of OVI and Possession of a Weapon While Intoxicated. Read our article for more information about how an OVI can affect your gun rights.

Call Us For Traffic Violations Involving Firearms

If you been involved in a traffic stop and your gun rights are now being restricted, give our attorneys a call. Or contact us for a complimentary strategy session on how we can help protect your rights. Our lawyers’ skills and experience will help you navigate the legal process and help you understand any charges against you. Our lawyers are familiar with the local Courts and can help you understand the strength of your case, and the likelihood of a favorable outcome in Court. During your first visit or phone call, we can do an initial assessment of your case, and give you a good idea of your personalized defense strategy, including how much our services will cost. Give us a call, any time day or night.



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