PA: Asking for consent while DL and registration in hand unreasonably extended stop

Defendant’s alleged excessive nervousness during a traffic stop caused the officer to have him get out of the car after the warrant check came back clean. He had defendant’s DL and registration in hand when he asked for consent, and defendant wasn’t free to leave. This was beyond the purpose of the traffic stop and was unreasonable. Commonwealth v. Mattis, 2021 Pa. Super. LEXIS 252 (Apr. 30, 2021):

Under these circumstances, we cannot agree with the suppression court’s decision that Appellant’s consent was lawful. The trooper testified that he asked Appellant to exit his vehicle in an attempt to discover the cause of Appellant’s nervous behavior. (Id. at 13). The trooper did not make this request in furtherance of his investigation for the speeding violation. Rather, the trooper sought to obtain additional information unrelated to the initial traffic stop. Significantly, once the primary purpose of the initial stop for the speeding violation ended, the trooper’s authority to order Appellant to exit his car had extinguished. See Sierra, supra. Thus, the trooper’s request for Appellant to exit his vehicle constituted an investigatory detention, requiring reasonable suspicion. See Donaldson, supra. Appellant’s nervous behavior alone did not provide a sufficient basis to warrant an investigatory detention. See DeHart, supra. Further, the trooper acknowledged that once Appellant exited his vehicle, he was not free to leave. (See N.T. Suppression Hearing, 12/4/18, at 13). The fact that the trooper retained possession of Appellant’s driver’s license and registration during each request for consent confirms that Appellant was actually not free to leave. See Freeman, supra. Therefore, Appellant’s consent to search was not constitutionally valid on these facts. See Lopez, supra. Accordingly, we vacate Appellant’s judgment of sentence and remand this case for a new trial at which the Commonwealth will not be permitted to introduce the illegally seized evidence. See id.

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