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Random check for validity of registration and RO's license status

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  • Random check for validity of registration and RO's license status

    I have searched and found some great information on here regarding random registration check's. I work in New York and we have a Mobile Data Terminal which when you enter a license plate it comes back with validity of the registration and the validity of the registered owners license. I was advised by a co worker that while case law states you can randomly check license plates (no reasonable expectation of privacy) it violates nyspin's policy. After review of nyspin's policy all I could find was a sentence stating something along the lines of a registration could not be checked out of curiosity (I don't have it in front of me and it didn't t elaborate anymore on it). I was looking for anyone to chime in on the subject and any relevant case law pertaining to random license plate checks and stopping of a suspended registered owner with no other probable cause. I wanted to print out everything I could and review for peace of mind and future debate.

  • #2
    If the policy says you can't do it, caselaw is going to be worthless when your chain of command wants to know why you are willfully violating nyspin policy. Then again, maybe it's one of those things that nobody really pays attention to or cares about, like when I click "agree" on software user agreements.

    My dept. now requires articulable reasonable suspicion and supervisor approval before we can do a CONSENT SEARCH! I know case law says I don't need this, but my policy says otherwise so that's what I'm stuck with.
    "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

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    • #3
      My department policy does not have anything relevant regarding it. The nyspin policy is somewhat unclear to me. I was hoping some New Yorkers could chime in and give their thoughts and opinions. Everyone in my Department randomly checks plates/doesn't log in any way the reason for checking the plate. I don't believe it will ever be an issue I just like to have things in order.

      If in fact is violates nyspin policy how are plate readers able to be used?

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      • #4
        My Two Cents Worth

        I’m not from New York and I am not familiar with NYSPIN policy, however, I suspect you will find that ”registration could not be checked out of curiosity” means you can’t run a plate to see where some babe lives just because she is hot.

        Most law enforcement servers have a simple basic rule, they me be accessed for law enforcement purposes only. If your inquiry is for law enforcement purposes, you should be good to go. But if you follow the “curiosity rule” you couldn’t run anything.

        We run people because we are curious as to whether they are wanted, we run cars because we are curious as to whether they are stolen, or because we are curious as to whether they belong to the person driving them. Curiosity is part of the job. If your curiosity has a law enforcement purpose, again, you shouldn’t have a problem.
        Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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        • #5
          There's no difference between you typing in the plates by hand and using an Automated License Plate Reader except for the fact the ALPR makes your life easier and does the work for you. You get the exact same information. You can type in the license plate of any vehicle for any law enforcement purpose (ie: seeing if it's stolen, registration suspended, expired registration, improper plates, etc).

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          • #6
            There's another thread in this section that has case law from across the country on this. I even linked to a DCJS article on plate readers that implies the random running of plates is acceptable. I actually do this all the time looking for suspensions and warrants, and often issue AUO or 512 tickets without any other PC ticket and have never had a problem in court. I've gotten a handful of DWIs this way and the issue was not even questioned at trial.

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            • #7
              Usually when there is a "curiousity" clause they are talking about personal not profesional. As long as you are acting within the scope of your employment you're ok.
              Today's Quote:

              "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
              Albert Einstein

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mdrdep View Post
                Usually when there is a "curiousity" clause they are talking about personal not profesional. As long as you are acting within the scope of your employment you're ok.
                You REALLY, REALLY REALLY mean I can't look up a hot chicks address..........................there goes my dream of being a cop so I can do that.
                My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by adeutch View Post
                  My dept. now requires articulable reasonable suspicion and supervisor approval before we can do a CONSENT SEARCH! I know case law says I don't need this, but my policy says otherwise so that's what I'm stuck with.
                  Sounds like they lost faith in a few officers after loosing face in court.
                  Pete Malloy, "The only thing black and white about this job is the car."

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                  • #10
                    you aren't randomly running tags looking for suspended licenses.

                    you are conducting pro-active police work and running license plates looking for stolen vehicles. When you ran the tag, and checked it's information, you got a hit of a RO with a suspended license. the description (or picture if you get it) matched the driver. you then initiated a traffic stop.

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                    • #11
                      anyone have New York case law regarding running plates and also stopping based off of the registered owner being suspended?

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                      • #12
                        I can't offer you a legal answer as I'm not from New York. My thought is that you should be able to articulate why you believe the R.O. is the driver. A good rule of thumb is that if you think it's stretching the boundaries, it is probably wiser to find different P.C. It would be pretty unfortunate to make a huge bust and have it tossed out in court due to faulty P.C.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by therook View Post
                          anyone have New York case law regarding running plates and also stopping based off of the registered owner being suspended?
                          There really isn't any in NY. That's the problem. What we do have is case law from other states and federal courts allowing the practice, combined with nothing in NY saying that it's not allowed. There is some vaguely related case law in NY (NY v Class which addresses expectation of privacy in VINs, and determines that there is none using the same reasoning other courts have used with regard to plates) but that does not quite address the exact issues as presented in this thread. Check the links I posted in the other thread in this section on the same topic, as well as some of the other posts there which cover various examples of case law.
                          Last edited by Fuerza; 01-04-2013, 10:02 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by American50 View Post
                            I can't offer you a legal answer as I'm not from New York. My thought is that you should be able to articulate why you believe the R.O. is the driver. A good rule of thumb is that if you think it's stretching the boundaries, it is probably wiser to find different P.C. It would be pretty unfortunate to make a huge bust and have it tossed out in court due to faulty P.C.
                            You don't need PC to make a traffic stop. You only need reasonable suspicion. It's best to have an idependant traffic violation or equipment violation. But if you don't, you can still stop the car depending on how well you can articulate the situation. If the registered owner is suspended. Look at the driver. Does the driver match the sex, height, weight, so on and so forth of the registered owner? If those things match up, the courts have ruled it is reasonable to assume the driver of the vehicle is the registered owner.
                            "Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
                            Watch your words, for they become actions.
                            Watch your actions, for they become habits.
                            Watch your habits, for they become character.
                            Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

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