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  1. #1
    HaulAss4T is offline Rookie
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    Traffic Stop Passengers

    If stopping a vehicle for something, a traffic violation for example, you are stopping the operator. If there are passengers, can they be detained, IDed, searched, ect. as well?...even though they are not really the ones being "stopped?" Does this vary from state to state?

  2. #2
    armygrnt502's Avatar
    armygrnt502 is offline Making my streets safer, one day at a time
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    Sure you can. When you stop a vehicle, for all intents and purposes, that car and it's occupants are "yours". Not literally, mind you.

    You are well within your rights to ask for their ID's, have them step out of the vehicle and question them (where they are going etc) and give a pat down to see if they are carrying any weapons etc.

    The driver is responsible for the actions of the passengers and if the passenger was the one that was acting up, then they of course will be asked to step out and questioned.

    In my experience, it is far better to know who is in the car that you are dealing with (warrants, etc) rather than just focus on the driver. Worst case, the passengers get cold for a moment or wet, best case, you find that 2 of the 3 passengers have active warrants and the driver is driving on suspended ol and has a stolen firearm in his waistband. (happened to me).

    Better safe than sorry.
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  3. #3
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by HaulAss4T View Post
    If stopping a vehicle for something, a traffic violation for example, you are stopping the operator. If there are passengers, can they be detained, IDed, searched, ect. as well?...even though they are not really the ones being "stopped?" Does this vary from state to state?
    Quote Originally Posted by armygrnt502 View Post
    Sure you can. When you stop a vehicle, for all intents and purposes, that car and it's occupants are "yours". Not literally, mind you.

    You are well within your rights to ask for their ID's, have them step out of the vehicle and question them (where they are going etc) and give a pat down to see if they are carrying any weapons etc.

    The driver is responsible for the actions of the passengers and if the passenger was the one that was acting up, then they of course will be asked to step out and questioned.
    Not exactly. If you can't articulate some reasonable suspicion or provide a legitimate legal basis to detain those passengers, they are free to go. The driver has violated a law; you've got grounds to hold him and obstruct his movement. The passengers just had the misfortune of being in the car with the guy; you can't keep them for that.

    At the same time, PA v Mimms and Md v. Wilson say that we can control the movements of drivers and passengers during a traffic stop. But if someone wants to leave, and you have no reasonable articulable suspicion to detain them longer, you cannot keep them there. In a routine stop, this doesn't typically become an issue. It's when you're taking the stop further into a criminal investigation that it comes up. At that point, just be sure that you can articulate why you kept that passenger there.

    Same thing with pat downs; Terry v Ohio doesn't give an absolute right to conduct a frisk. A frisk is only legally permissible when you can articulate a reason to suspect that the person is armed. In Terry, Det. McFadden suspected that Terry was going to commit an armed robbery. He could explain why he thought that Terry was going to rob a store, and why he thought that he had a weapon. Unless you can articulate a reason why you thought that there was a weapon, you can't frisk a person.

  4. #4
    121Traffic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jks9199 View Post
    Not exactly. If you can't articulate some reasonable suspicion or provide a legitimate legal basis to detain those passengers, they are free to go. The driver has violated a law; you've got grounds to hold him and obstruct his movement. The passengers just had the misfortune of being in the car with the guy; you can't keep them for that.

    At the same time, PA v Mimms and Md v. Wilson say that we can control the movements of drivers and passengers during a traffic stop. But if someone wants to leave, and you have no reasonable articulable suspicion to detain them longer, you cannot keep them there. In a routine stop, this doesn't typically become an issue. It's when you're taking the stop further into a criminal investigation that it comes up. At that point, just be sure that you can articulate why you kept that passenger there.

    Same thing with pat downs; Terry v Ohio doesn't give an absolute right to conduct a frisk. A frisk is only legally permissible when you can articulate a reason to suspect that the person is armed. In Terry, Det. McFadden suspected that Terry was going to commit an armed robbery. He could explain why he thought that Terry was going to rob a store, and why he thought that he had a weapon. Unless you can articulate a reason why you thought that there was a weapon, you can't frisk a person.
    +1, beat me to it.

    Now there is nothing to say that you can't ask the passengers for their information. If they don't speak to you, or tell you to pound sand, you are probably SOL. If, through no coercion on your part, you can build a rapport and get a name/dob, you are free to run all the checks you want.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 121Traffic View Post
    you can build a rapport and get a name/dob, you are free to run all the checks you want.
    Yep, I try to ID everyone in the vehicle. I've never had anyone tell me to go F myself.

  6. #6
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    deputysykes is offline Corporal
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    In the great state of Illinois the law is a little different. I think this is a good thread starter for "The Locker Room."
    I'm not ruining your life, you are, and I'm just going to write a short story about it.

  7. #7
    Cheech Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by HaulAss4T View Post
    If stopping a vehicle for something, a traffic violation for example, you are stopping the operator. If there are passengers, can they be detained, IDed, searched, ect. as well?...even though they are not really the ones being "stopped?" Does this vary from state to state?
    In Nevada the passengers do not need to identify themselves if it was just a a traffic stop I was performing on a traffic infraction etc. They technically can open the door and walk out on me... According to the DA . So to answer your question me personally every one stays in the car.

  8. #8
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    Coloradocop is offline It's the PoPo
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    Quote Originally Posted by deputysykes View Post
    In the great state of Illinois the law is a little different. I think this is a good thread starter for "The Locker Room."
    +1... I think this is a good "verified" section type discussion (developing PC on traffic, who is included in an involuntary contact, etc). I sort of wonder what the original poster's intentions were in asking this question. Was he in a car that was stopped with no plate on it, and the driver could produce no registration? Was he in a suspected stolen vehicle when an officer told him he wasn't leaving?

    I hate to be overly suspicious here, but it always raises an eyebrow for me when a brand new member asks a question like this... maybe because I've had so many passengers tell me what I can and can't do during a stop.

    If this is the case, I will leave the original poster with this one clear piece of advice: Do what you are told by the officer, as requested, during the stop. If you feel that your rights have been violated, make the case after the stop through the appropriate legal channels. I had a passenger try to challenge me on my authority to detain him on a stop recently. Tried to quote all kinds of court cases justifying his position... He didn't realize that I already had the PC to arrest him, and he ended up in jail with additional charges for interference (he pled guilty on that charge).

    just my $.02

  9. #9
    BigDawg's Avatar
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    In NC you have the right to ask and get id from everyone in the vehicle. I thought this was a new Federal decision handed down in the last couple of years. guess its only a NC decision.
    "An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper


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  10. #10
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    I get everyones Id or information from a vehicle. I want to know who I am dealing with before I walk back up to that car.
    It is fine with my dept to do this.

    If I see a passenger who is showing signs of being nervous then I act accordingly and call back up as well. We are trained to recognize non verbal cues and they have saved my life twice now.

    I dont play on a traffic stop and would rather have to say my Im sorrys afterwards and go home than the alternative.
    most folks understand this.
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  11. #11
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    K9brando is offline Fun In The Snow!
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    There is case law from the supreme court that was made from my department that says that you can keep the passengers of the car in the car until you have finished your traffic stop. You are not required to let them leave if you do not wish too (keeping in mind that there is a reasonable time limit which is the same as the scope of the stop). And of course like with this officer that must be some sort of justification for keeping the passengers there such as our officer had on the stop. That would be that the car left a known drug house, the stop was in the middle of an area with no homes and there were no street lights available to help his situation.

    I don't let anybody leave during a stop unless I know who they are. Just to get out and leave is reasonable suspicion enough for me to detain.

    I can't remember the case law but I will look it up. It's Roanoke Rapids vs. something or city vs. something or NC vs something. It was Officer Norton at the time but now he is a Lieutenant with our department.
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    BigDawg's Avatar
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    Roanoke rapids???? Im so sorry K9Brando....my condolences.








    Just kidding man!!
    "An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper


    Some people are meant to be the police......Some people are meant to call the police!!!

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    Not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslim.
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  13. #13
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by 121Traffic View Post
    +1, beat me to it.

    Now there is nothing to say that you can't ask the passengers for their information. If they don't speak to you, or tell you to pound sand, you are probably SOL. If, through no coercion on your part, you can build a rapport and get a name/dob, you are free to run all the checks you want.
    Absolutely! If the passengers want to voluntarily hang out (and you don't have to volunteer that they can leave!), nothing prevents you from asking them questions. I love asking someone "Do you have ID?" because 9 time out of 10 -- they hand it to you. I didn't ask for it -- they volunteered it to me!

    There is one catch -- know what your state courts have said constitutes a "detention." In VA, the courts have held that you have detained somebody if you hold onto their license/ID while you run them. So, either ask "do you mind if I hold onto this for minute?" (or something similar) to keep it consensual, write the info down and run it from your notes, or call it in and give it right back. That's the result of state rulings, not federal.

    (And this thread is highlighting exactly why good cops spend time keeping with what the court says. I bet I can pose a scenario which has a clear answer based on court rulings and I lot of decent cops will get it wrong...)

  14. #14
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDawg3533 View Post
    In NC you have the right to ask and get id from everyone in the vehicle. I thought this was a new Federal decision handed down in the last couple of years. guess its only a NC decision.
    I've not seen a federal ruling; that doesn't mean there's not one or that there wasn't one, though. Can you give a citation?

  15. #15
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    There was just a Supreme Court ruling on this. Not sure if it was Federal or State.


    Someone v. Hiibel (unsure of the spelling)

    The guy made a website.
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  16. #16
    Jks9199 is offline The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Hiibel was a USSC opinion, but my recollection is that it's not really on point here. Nevada has a statute that requires a person identify themselves if stopped by the police, and there was reasonable suspicion to detain Hiibel long enough to figure out what was going on. I've got to re-read the case, but the head notes don't suggest that it covers routine identification of passengers in a car without a statute to support it.

 

 

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