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Traffic stop based on passenger having a warrant

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  • Traffic stop based on passenger having a warrant

    So typically when you make a traffic stop the driver has to id themselves because they committed a traffic infraction but the passenegers can refuse to do so. What if you stop a car because you recognize a passeneger that has a warrant? Can the driver refuse to id themselves since they did not committ a crime?

  • #2
    The answer varies by State. In IL I can only demand ID when reasonable suspicion or probable cause exist.

    Reasonable Suspicion: I'm responding to a burglary and see a person matching the description of the offender on foot in the area. I can detain that person for a reasonable amount of time to determine if they were involved in a criminal offense. I can also legally demand they identify themselves and if they refuse they're obstructing.

    Probable Cause: You look like you're speeding and radar says you're speeding. I pull you over, I can demand your ID. I can order you or your passengers in or out of the vehicle. I cannot demand your passengers ID themselves absent a reason to do so. Say I smell weed in the car, now everyone is being ID'd and I'm searching them and the car.

    Consent: I ask for your ID and you give it to me.

    I've only had one person in my career refuse to ID themselves when just asked to do so. It was a situation where I couldn't force it so I wished them a good evening and went on with my life. 99% of the time, if you ask for ID, they'll just give it to you.

    So refusing to identify yourself, even if you're not legally required to do so, raises my suspicion because it's not 'normal'. And really, unless you have a warrant or know your license is suspended, why wouldn't you? Refusing means you're stopped for longer while the officer takes a much closer look to make sure things are on the up and up.

    If my only reason for stopping the car was I recognized a passenger had a warrant, then no, in IL I likely can't demand the driver's ID This is assuming a completely vanilla situation with no other factors in play. But the law book is also full of ancillary, minor little provisions. Got something hanging from your rearview mirror? Obstructed Windshield; now I can demand your ID. Tints too dark? ID. Front plate isn't properly displayed? ID. One of your plates is crooked? ID. Light bulb over your rear plate is out? ID. Leaving a high crime area in the company of known gang members? You get the idea.

    I'm not saying to not exercise your rights. I'm saying to pick your battles. Chances are, if I recognized the passenger has a warrant, it's for something more serious than a missed court appearance for a speeding ticket. Being in the company of folks like that instantly makes suspicion of everyone else in the car higher. If you find yourself in the unlikely situation of being stopped because your passenger has a warrant, and you're asked for your ID, I'd just hand it over and get on with your life. You have no way of knowing all the factors in play.
    Last edited by NW121; 04-12-2019, 04:03 PM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dee97 View Post
      So typically when you make a traffic stop the driver has to id themselves because they committed a traffic infraction but the passenegers can refuse to do so. What if you stop a car because you recognize a passeneger that has a warrant? Can the driver refuse to id themselves since they did not committ a crime?
      Why would you refuse to show your driver's license?

      Sure the driver can " refuse to id themselves." But just because you can do something doesn't mean it's a good idea to do it. What can happen as a result depends on the facts, circumstances, the officer's training and experience.

      If it was me and I was in a good mood I may just tow the car and send you walking down the road. I don't want any unlicensed people driving and getting in to accidents.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dee97 View Post
        What if you stop a car because you recognize a passeneger that has a warrant?
        I probably wouldn’t stop the car if this was my only PC. Partially because I don’t really feel like making case law, but also because it’s just so damn easy to wait a few minutes and find a vehicle code violation. You can find a reason to pull over anyone. There is no legal issue if I keep following the car, even if it makes the driver uncomfortable.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Myhammy View Post
          There is no legal issue if I keep following the car, even if it makes the driver uncomfortable.
          Not to get too far off-topic, but one of the few drunk-driving cases I lost in court was because the judge felt I followed a vehicle too long "fishing for a violation".

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          • #6
            Originally posted by orangebottle View Post

            Not to get too far off-topic, but one of the few drunk-driving cases I lost in court was because the judge felt I followed a vehicle too long "fishing for a violation".

            That's a new one for me. What state are you in? I don't want to give the OP bad info.

            Perhaps because it was a DUI the judge felt there should have been a more overt violation to articulate impairment?
            Last edited by Myhammy; 04-24-2019, 06:12 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Myhammy View Post

              That's a new one for me. What state are you in? I don't want to give the OP bad info.

              Perhaps because it was a DUI the judge felt there should have been a more overt violation to articulate impairment?
              State is WI.

              Situation was oh-dark-thirty, just after bar time. I was completing a traffic stop when truck drove by with a passenger partially out of the window and he yelled, "F*** you!" I probably could have made the stop based on that alone (disorderly conduct) but I wanted a little more for the driver. I followed for about 4 blocks when the driver made a turn, and drove into the opposing lane of traffic.

              The driver had a CDL, so I understand why he fought it. I was just surprised the judge felt 4 blocks was too long to follow looking for a violation.

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              • ThinBlue404
                ThinBlue404 commented
                Editing a comment
                Sounds like Dane...

              • Bing_Oh
                Bing_Oh commented
                Editing a comment
                I've worked midnights most of my career and have followed card MUCH longer than 4 blocks. Sounds like head-up-posterior on the part of the judge...

                Most of us know our judges and know their little quirks. Maybe this was just one of those instances.

            • #8
              Originally posted by orangebottle View Post
              I followed for about 4 blocks when the driver made a turn, and drove into the opposing lane of traffic.
              Sounds like a good stop to me. I'll keep this in mind in the future.

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              • #9
                Yeah, I've observed driving patterns for MUCH longer than four blocks prior to stopping a suspected DUI driver, and no judge has ever had a problem with it.

                Likewise, I've also stopped people for minor equipment violations, found them to be impaired, and arrested them for DUI. Usually Harleys with no mufflers. Those cases have resulted in convictions.

                I even stopped to sort out a verbal domestic between two males parked at the curb with the engine running, and arrested the one in the driver's seat for DUI. Got a conviction on that one too.

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by orangebottle View Post

                  State is WI.

                  Situation was oh-dark-thirty, just after bar time. I was completing a traffic stop when truck drove by with a passenger partially out of the window and he yelled, "F*** you!" I probably could have made the stop based on that alone (disorderly conduct) but I wanted a little more for the driver. I followed for about 4 blocks when the driver made a turn, and drove into the opposing lane of traffic.

                  The driver had a CDL, so I understand why he fought it. I was just surprised the judge felt 4 blocks was too long to follow looking for a violation.
                  Wouldn't be surprised if the judge had some close friendships with or some truck drivers in the family.


                  Would be nice if all judges were purely neutral, fair and follow the law and precedence when making their decisions.

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                  • #11
                    Everybody commits traffic violations all the time- nobody's perfect.

                    If I initiate a stop for one of those violations, then yes, the driver is legally required to show me a driver's license when I ask for it...and his passenger with the warrant is going to jail.

                    If the driver doesn't produce a valid driver's license, but I can positively identify him via some other government-issued photo ID (or if I already know him), then it's up to my discretion as an officer, as to whether I choose to issue him a criminal summons and let him walk away (without driving) or whether I choose to arrest him and take him to jail.

                    If the driver doesn't produce a valid driver's license and I cannot positively identify him via those methods listed above, then he's going to jail.

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                    • #12
                      In Canada, all LEO empowered to conduct traffic stops are also empowered to do so MERELY for DL, vehicle registration / title / insurance / ownership, and operator sobriety checks, and any matters that arise as a result, either due to records checks, or indications of offences in plain-view, thus, up here, the driver DOES have to identify themselves, while the passenger, unless they are committing an offence (occupant restraint system improper, or non, use, or illegal liquor possession / consumption) would not.
                      If we have reasonable suspicion of an offence occurring in the vehicle that could be committed by anyone within it (alcohol, illegal substance, firearm, stolen property), then it is reasonable to detain and identify everyone in order to conduct a proper investigation.
                      I, too, had followed suspicious vehicles for what that judge may have considered improper, but, fortunately, even the judges I had dealt with were not as stupid as that one!
                      #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
                      Proud Dad of #54266 - RCMP - 2007-02-12 to date
                      RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
                      Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada - Associate (Retired) member
                      "Smile" - no!

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