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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    1

    Default Can the Police Pull Over a Car Because the Registered Owner's License is Suspended

    I am not sure if traffic stop rules vary from state to state or not...

    At any rate, this incident took place in Washington state. A police officer followed my brother-in-law's vechicle and decided to run his plate. The officer then discovered that the registered owner of the vehicle's license was suspended and made a traffic stop and cited him for driving with a suspended license. The officer even stated that this was the "reason" that he made the stop - no weaving, erratic driving, speeding, etc.

    My specific question was this a valid stop? Any input would be appreciated.

    J.T. Sawyer

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    758

    Default Running a Plate

    Running a plate is not of itself a search. It is legally noncontrovercial for an officer to run a plate on a car, discover that the plate has expired or is fron another vehicle, and to effect a traffic stop.

    The difference in the situation you describe is that the information ascertained by the officer was that the registered owner's license was expired, not that the vehicle's registration was expired. This in turn raises the question of whether the information that the registered owner's license is expired creates a reasonable suspicion for stopping the person driving the vehicle (who may not be the registered owner).

    If the officer has other information about the registered owner from the vehicle registration database, it may well be that the officer can be pretty certain that the driver is the registered owner before making the traffic stop. It may be that courts in some jurisdictions have held that as long as it is not obvious that the driver is not the registered owner, knowledge that the registered owner's license is expired is a sufficient basis for an investigatory stop. Off the top of my head, I do not know where Washington's courts have come down on this issue.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Bad Traffic Stop

    I have had the same thing happen to me. I don't know what you might have found out by now but I am thinking about fighting the stop. The judge in my charge hearing says that the officer does have the authority to make the stop as per Washington State Supreme Court decision. Do you have any knowledge of this decision because I can't find it anywhere?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    20,453

    Default Re: Bad Traffic Stop

    Quote Quoting kimpossible
    I have had the same thing happen to me. I don't know what you might have found out by now but I am thinking about fighting the stop. The judge in my charge hearing says that the officer does have the authority to make the stop as per Washington State Supreme Court decision. Do you have any knowledge of this decision because I can't find it anywhere?
    This post is almost three years old.

    Yes, the police can run your license plate for no reason.

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    643

    Default Re: Bad Traffic Stop

    I don't think the stop was lawful and see my response to kimpossible's thread.

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