4th Amendment Blog – Not unreasonable for officer to ask “locomotion-related inquiries not strictly directed to the motorist’s conduct at the time of the stop”
During a traffic stop, it is not unreasonable for an officer to ask “locomotion-related inquiries not strictly directed to the motorist’s conduct at the time of the stop, such as ‘[the] motorist’s travel history and travel plans’ and ‘the driver’s authority to operate the vehicle .'” The officer had a drug dog, and it was not unreasonable to use the dog. “While Defendant may curse his bad luck to get stopped by a police officer who has a drug dog and who knows the constitutional limits of his authority, nothing about this stop was unreasonable.” United States v. Pratt, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101906 (M.D. Tenn. July 22, 2013).
Vehicles on public roads are subjected to what is called the “Automobile Exception” which means that the police can search the vehicle under certain circumstances.
• Consent. If the driver or owner of the car consents to the search of the vehicle then the police can search the vehicle.
• Plain View Rule. If the police officer can see something that is illegal or leads him to believe there is illegal items in the car then he can began to explore what he sees.
• Searches made in connection with a legal arrest. If a motorist is arrested then what is done is called an inventory search of the vehicle and is allowed under the law.
• Exigent circumstances. If officer fear that important evidence is about to be destroyed he can search the car, or if he feels someone is in danger he can search the car.
• Probable cause. If an officer has reason to believe that a crime is or has been committed, he can search the car. This can be from the driver acting nervous and also giving bad or confusing information or the smell of alcohol or drugs or description of the vehicle or person being similar to a report of criminal activity .