Opinion of the Court
Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case we decide whether the temporary detention of a motorist who the police have probable cause to believe has committed a civil traffic violation is inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable seizures unless a reasonable officer would have been motivated to stop the car by a desire to enforce the traffic laws.
On the evening of June 10, 1993, plainclothes vice-squad officers of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department were patrolling a "high drug area" of the city in an unmarked car. Their suspicions were aroused when they passed a dark Pathfinder truck with temporary license plates and youthful occupants waiting at a stop sign, the driver looking down into the lap of the passenger at his right. The truck remained stopped at the intersection for what seemed an unusually long time—more than 20 seconds. When the police car executed a U-turn in order to head back toward the truck, the Pathfinder turned suddenly to its right, without signaling, and sped off at an "unreasonable" speed. The policemen followed, and in a short while overtook the Path-finder when it stopped behind other traffic at a red light. They pulled up alongside, and Officer Ephraim Soto stepped out and approached the driver's door, identifying himself as a police officer and directing the driver, petitioner Brown, to put the vehicle in park. When Soto drew up to the driver's
Thomas J. Miller of Iowa, Carla J. Stovall of Kansas, J. Joseph Curran, Jr., of Maryland, Mike Moore of Mississippi, Frankie Sue Del Papa of Nevada, Deborah T. Poritz of New Jersey, Dennis C. Vacco of New York, Michael F. Easley of North Carolina, Betty D. Montgomery of Ohio, W. A. Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma, Charles W. Burson of Tennessee, and Jan Graham of Utah.
Richard S. Michaels and Jeff Rubin filed a brief for the California District Attorney's Association as amicus curiae.Page: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Next
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