There are many reasons for a police officer to pull a driver over.
One such reason has made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and it may have ramifications countrywide.
The country’s highest court agreed to hear a case brought by Derek Schimdt, Kansas attorney general, challenging a ruling by the state supreme court. It found that a police officer would be violating the fourth amendment to the US Constitution if he or she pulled over a driver only because the driver is on the road with a suspended license.
The case stems from a Douglas County police stop.
The officer ran the tags of the driver and discovered the owner of the car had his driving privileges suspended. The driver, Charles Glover, contends that even though he was driving on a suspended license – and was indeed a habitual offender – the cop did not have a right to run his plates and pull him over solely on the basis of what the officer found in the records. The officer did not indicate that he had observed Glover committing any traffic offense.
The fourth amendment, part of the bill of rights of the constitution, prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
While we await the Supreme Court to determine this case later this year, we feel obliged to say that a police officer pulling up a driver’s information without cause is itself an unreasonable search.
Car tags give the information on the car owner, not necessarily the person driving it. Using that information to impede the freedom of the driver – without verifying that the driver is indeed the owner of the car – smacks of zealous law enforcement.