How to Quickly Clear Body Screens at Airport Checkpoints

We are preparing for summer holiday travel by familiarizing ourselves with the security process for clearing airport checkpoints. In our last post we examined property or personal belongings searches. In this post we will spotlight body searches.

Can I Refuse a Body Screen?

Most airports have full-body scanners that use millimeter waves, MMW, to screen the body for contraband. Here, a prohibited item would be a cigarette lighter. If the scan identifies a cigarette lighter in your pocket, you will be asked to discard it to clear the body search portion of the scan. If the TSO cannot identify the item, he or she will refer you to an enhanced pat-down search.

When an enhanced pat-down search is ordered, the passenger may request the search be performed by a specific gendered TSO. A passenger may also request that instead of a full-body scan using MMW, an enhanced pat-down be performed and choose the gender of the TSO.  

There are many reasons people refuse a full-body scan that have nothing to do with carrying prohibited items or contraband. A person with a pacemaker cannot withstand the body scan. An individual with a concern about receiving radiation may refuse to provide MMW screening.

If the item detected in the full-body scan is contraband, like cocaine pellets in the passenger’s stomach, the passenger will be detained and referred to law enforcement for criminal investigation and arrest.

You May Request a Private Screening

A private screening means that an enhanced pat-down is conducted out of public view. The passenger may request a travel companion be present and the gender of the TSO. Again, passengers in these scenarios seek privacy and wish to protect it.

You do Not Have to Disrobe

During a TSA search, you will not be asked to disrobe or reveal a private area of your body. A cavity search can only be done by law enforcement personnel, not the TSA. Accommodations for religious clothing, like a hijab or turbans, may be requested and granted.

Be Respectful

The TSOs are screening thousands of passengers. Everyone’s clock is ticking. If any of your rights are violated during your airport screening, remind the TSO that it is your right to request an accommodation to the process. For more information on banned items you cannot carry onto an airplane, visit the TSA website or click here.

People Get Arrested at Airports All the Time

If you are in possession of contraband at an airport, you will be referred to law enforcement for an immediate arrest. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime in San Diego, contact a qualified San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney who can help mitigate penalties today and explain your legal rights and responsibilities. Available 24/7, the Boertje Law Firm represents clients at any stage of the criminal case and for any crime charged.

We serve the communities of San Diego County including Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Fallbrook, Imperial Beach, La Jolla, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Spring Valley, and Vista. San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney David Boertje is available to talk to you. Call us toll free at (888) 476-0901 or contact us on the web to start legal representation right away.