I Got 99 Problems but the 4th Amendment Ain't One

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on November 01, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You're driving down the street when you're pulled over by a cop. You didn't do anything wrong, so what could he want? Do you answer his questions and do as he says?

You may be surprised, but Jay-Z is the one to ask. He "ain't pass the bar but [he] knows a little bit."

About the Fourth Amendment, that is.

Let's cue up Jay-Z's 2004 hit, 99 Problems. You'll see what we're talking about.

Got it? (We got it for you at the bottom of this page.) Now fast-forward to the second verse when the cop asks:

"Well do you mind if I look around the car a little bit?"

Well my glove compartment is locked, so is the trunk in the back

And I know my rights, so you gon' need a warrant for that

Beyonce's baby daddy is right--law enforcement can't search your trunk without a warrant. Or at least probable cause .

But if the cops suspect that you are involved in criminal activity or are armed, they can search you and the inside of your car.

But if they ask to search your car, feel free to say "no."

However, you might not want to go this far:

"[L]icense and registration and step out of the car

Are you carryin' a weapon on you? I know a lot of you are"

I ain't steppin out of s---, all my papers legit

Your papers may be legit, but you can't--and shouldn't--refuse to get out of the car. Officers have a right to make the request, and a refusal may be met with force. Or a gun in the face.

Yes, the same applies even if pulled over for Driving While Black :

"Son do you know why I'm stoppin you for"

Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hats real low?

If this is the case, your ticket may be thrown out. But there's no use in fighting about it on the side of the road. Take it up with the judge later.

And that about sums it up. Bet you never thought you could learn constitutional law from Jay-Z, eh?

JayZ 99 Problems from Joaquin Baca-Asay on Vimeo.

Stay tuned for some more hip hop-inspired legal lessons. Next up is Kanye West, who knows a lil' something about child support. And since FindLaw is founded on democratic ideals, we'd like to hear from you. If you'd like to see us break down another legal-minded song, drop us a line on our FindLaw For Consumers Facebook page.

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