WI: Even though RS dissipated before the driver could be asked for DL, it was still reasonable to check all paperwork

Even though reasonable suspicion dissipates on the stop, here because the owner was a woman with a suspended DL but a man was driving, it is still reasonable for the officer to check the paperwork of the driver and car. State v. Smith, 2018 WI 2, 2018 Wisc. LEXIS 4 (Jan. 10, 2018), rev’g 2016 WI App 80, 372 Wis. 2d 184, 888 N.W.2d 22 (2016) (per curiam):

[*P1] … We are asked to decide whether the police violated Frederick S. Smith’s Fourth Amendment rights when a police officer asked for his driver’s license during a traffic stop even though reasonable suspicion for the stop dissipated as the officer approached the car, or when the police officer opened the passenger door after being told the driver’s door and window were broken. The Fourth Amendment protects “against unreasonable searches and seizures,” and our analysis focuses on what is reasonable in light of the particular circumstances. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889 (1968); see also Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206, 222, 80 S. Ct. 1437, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1669 (1960)(“What the Constitution forbids is not all searches and seizures, but unreasonable searches and seizures.”).

[*P2] We hold that when an officer conducts a valid traffic stop, part of that stop includes checking identification, even if the reasonable suspicion that formed the basis for the stop in the first place has dissipated. See Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609, 1615, 191 L. Ed. 2d 492 (2015) (“Beyond determining whether to issue a traffic ticket, an officer’s mission includes ‘ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic] stop.’” (citing Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405, 408, 125 S. Ct. 834, 160 L. Ed. 2d 842 (2005)); State v. Williams, 2002 WI App 306, ¶1, 258 Wis. 2d 395, 655 N.W.2d 462 (“We conclude the officer had the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop Williams’s vehicle to determine if he was the suspect in a domestic abuse incident. We also conclude that, because the initial detention was lawful, the officer could properly ask Williams his name and for identification even if she had already decided he was not the suspect.”). Asking for a driver’s license does not impermissibly extend a stop because it is part of the original mission of the traffic stop. However, the “ordinary inquiries,” which are related in scope to the purpose of a traffic stop, must be executed within the time it should have reasonably taken to complete them. Rodriguez, 135 S. Ct. at 1614.

[*P3] We further hold the police officer’s act of opening the passenger door in order to effectively communicate with a driver otherwise inaccessible due to the malfunctioning driver’s door and window did not constitute an unreasonable search because the officer’s actions, viewed objectively, would warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe the action taken was appropriate. See Terry, 392 U.S. at 21-22. Because Smith’s stop was reasonably executed, we hold that no Fourth Amendment violation occurred. The circuit court correctly denied Smith’s suppression motion. Accordingly, the decision of the court of appeals is reversed and Smith’s judgment of conviction stands.

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