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  • Case law on running tags

    I can find no case law on vehicle registration checks. I was running some checks the other day in referenece to a stolen vehicle bolo. A supervisor told me that I was breaking the law because I had no "probable cause". The debate turned heavy. He then accused me of "fishing" for violations. He even went as far to say he "observed" violate someones "rights" by runnining their tag for no reason, but refused to get into details.
    I went and pulled the GCIC rule book and only found that you cant use the information for "personal reasons". I cannot find any case law in reference to the matter such as a defedant challenging a privacy issue or 4th amendment reason for the tag not to be ran.
    My belief is that someone heard a check over the scanner and made a compliant. This is a small rural town, everyone knowns everyone. Iv been here for four months comming from an agency were my main focus was crime suppression, not the crime ignorance that is the norm here.

  • #2
    Yeah, I would need to know from him where, exactly, the detention is, when running tags on moving vehicles.

    Part of your job as a PO involves vehicles on the roadway and their registration status. We have the option of asking for a "short" DMV, which gives only the year and make of the car...no name/address.
    "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

    Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

    Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

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    • #3
      I'd have to go digging for the cite, but years and years ago the 9th Circuit or the USSC deemed that since license plates are open to the viewing of all, and since no unreasonable intrusion into a person's freedom of movement or privacy was invaded, that officers can run plates via MDT until the cows come home, even if you ran every single plate you see as you drive down the street.

      I'll look for that cite and if I find it I'll post it for ya!

      EDJ
      "It's a game of cat and mouse. It's a game of hide and seek. Albeit games with deadly consequences. Like most games-the better you know the rules, the more likely you are to win."

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bvpd View Post
        I can find no case law on vehicle registration checks. I was running some checks the other day in referenece to a stolen vehicle bolo. A supervisor told me that I was breaking the law because I had no "probable cause". The debate turned heavy. He then accused me of "fishing" for violations. He even went as far to say he "observed" violate someones "rights" by runnining their tag for no reason, but refused to get into details.
        I went and pulled the GCIC rule book and only found that you cant use the information for "personal reasons". I cannot find any case law in reference to the matter such as a defedant challenging a privacy issue or 4th amendment reason for the tag not to be ran.
        My belief is that someone heard a check over the scanner and made a compliant. This is a small rural town, everyone knowns everyone. Iv been here for four months comming from an agency were my main focus was crime suppression, not the crime ignorance that is the norm here.
        Don't think you'll find any "case law" per se, concerning running tags. That said, I don't suggest you get into a &&^% contest with your Sergeant. Now, I'm not saying you're doing this, but if you're running every tag you run across, yah , the Sarge is probably going to say something to you. Maybe, the Dispatcher has already said something to him. I suggest you be a little selective in running tags. Certainly, they should be run on traffic stops. Many dispatchers will do that automatically. Say you see a strange vehicle parked in the same spot 24-48 hours. You should probably run that tag. Be a little selective. That should help some.

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        • #5
          Since when do you need PC to stop a car anyway? RAS...

          We have case law in my state that upholds "bingo stops."

          We even have recent case law that upholds a stop if we find that the vehicle's registered owner is suspended/wanted... we don't have to verify description/age/sex to lawfully make the stop.

          Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

          Of course, your mileage may vary with your state's courts.
          All Gave Some - Some Gave All

          {"data-align":"none","data-size":"custom","data-tempid":"temp_14312_1475388990098_890","height":"65","title":"flower.gif","width":"72"}

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          • #6
            What complete and utter crap!! A person in an automobile has much less of a right to privacy than someone in their home. The plate and info that goes with it is public information anyways and as such, you can run any damn plate you choose. Now, if you're running the registrations over the air then the dispatcher is probably gonna get sick of you doing that to any and every plate, however that is their job. If you're doing it over your MDT or MCT whatever you wanna call it... you aren't violating anyone's rights and I damn well would butt heads with this Sergeant. If he's leading the troops then he needs to know exactly how to lead and leading by wrong information makes for a poor leader....but then again...after re reading the post, if you butt heads with that ignoramus then you might find yourself out of a job.

            You're doing the right thing and haven't done anything wrong.
            Moooooooooooo, I'm a goat

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            • #7
              You could argue plain view doctrine, as the driver and the plate are both in plain view. More importantly, there is no search or seizure involved. You are observing something in and from a place you have a legal right to be.

              It's also extremely common practice to run plates of vehicles around you to make sure they are on the right vehicle, aren't stolen, etc.

              As far as case law, try:
              City of Horizon V Albert
              http://law.wisc.edu/rcid/caselaw/wis...ns/99-0729.htm
              I miss you, Dave.
              http://www.odmp.org/officer/20669-of...david-s.-moore

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              • #8
                I don't see why it would be a problem. I run many plates on my MDT and have come across plenty of Suspended or Expired Registrations in the process. Just to CMA I will try to find some other violation to stop them for. If there isn't, I'll just call out "Rolling Data on 'ABC1234'" dispatch will come back that its suspended then there you go, stop said vehicle. Don't want to have to come to court and say well my PC was I was running plate after plate and came across one that was suspended, JUST in case there is some Judge out there who would toss it.

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                • #9
                  I thought Plates and Ops blonged tot he state. When we pay for them its more like rent. Not to mention all the other good reasons already out there about why we can run plates for anything except because its my ex's new boyfriend.

                  This was your Sgt.? Its that frontal labotamy thing I would guess. The chief may have sucked the frontal lobe out with a straw and replaced it with a grape jelly.
                  It takes a Wolf.......

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                  • #10
                    I personally run tags all the time on my laptop. If I get a hit for suspended license or warrant, I will do what we call a D.A.V.I.D. check, pull the registered owner's driver's license info as well as their photo and I will compare them with who I see driving. I never lost in court yet, and I have been doing this for a number of years now.

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                    • #11
                      I think there was a thread on this sometime in the past year, I copied down this cite New York v. Class 475U.S. 106 (1986)

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                      • #12
                        Do a search for the prior thread which was titled "Case Law", it has a few other case law cites listed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bvpd View Post
                          I can find no case law on vehicle registration checks. I was running some checks the other day in referenece to a stolen vehicle bolo. A supervisor told me that I was breaking the law because I had no "probable cause". The debate turned heavy. He then accused me of "fishing" for violations. He even went as far to say he "observed" violate someones "rights" by runnining their tag for no reason, but refused to get into details.
                          I went and pulled the GCIC rule book and only found that you cant use the information for "personal reasons". I cannot find any case law in reference to the matter such as a defedant challenging a privacy issue or 4th amendment reason for the tag not to be ran.
                          My belief is that someone heard a check over the scanner and made a compliant. This is a small rural town, everyone knowns everyone. Iv been here for four months comming from an agency were my main focus was crime suppression, not the crime ignorance that is the norm here.
                          Random MV look ups are normally OK unless there is some Ga law specifically prohibiting it. The problem is that in a small town nothing is ever precieved by the Public as "random"...in a real short time you'll find yourself dealing with the same people over and over again. So then will come the inevitable complaints of bias and harassment. I have to hear about it about my men all the time.....what's worse the Chief and Capt. are hearing about it too. Since you're a outsider and clearly a proactive Officer with a "Main focus on crime suppression, not crime ignorance that is the norm here" how do you think the locals are going to react? What if your supervisor is local?..Do you think that your attitude is correct for your environment?..I was a Black Horse 20 years ago too and I was amazed at the interpersonal relationships within my little 20officer dept. (a shore town with only 3,000 people but it does grow to 40,000 during the 100 days of summer).

                          You may win every legal battle but lose the moral war. So you'd be well advised to pick your battles wisely and know on which field you actually stand and not on the one on which you desire.

                          Good Luck and stay safe.

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                          • #14
                            If you are running tag after tag over the air, then you may be ticking the dispatchers off...and they complained to your Sgt.

                            If you are running tags via an MDT, then I see no problem with running them. Over my MDT, I run a ton of tags each and every day..whether I see a violation or not. You never know when that Hyundai in front of you is stolen from another jurisdiction. I can't say that I run every vehicle I get behind but its common for me to be punching in a tag while behind a car at a stop light or on a long stretch of roadway.

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                            • #15
                              Sounds like dispatcher complaint to me, maybe you are interfering with their favorite TV show. I don't say run every tag or even a lot, but if something draws your attention to that tag, then run it, nothing illegal about it, period.
                              law dog

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