Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Traffic Stop Frisk Justified by Circumstances

U.S. v. Rice, -- F.3d --, 2007 WL 1180421 (10th Cir. 4/23/07) - Traffic stop was concededly justified at its inception by a tag light violation and its duration was not unreasonably extended by removal of Mr. Rice from the car. In the course of a routine traffic stop, the officer did not need reasonable suspicion to request Rice's ID, run a background check or remove him from the car. The totality of the facts, including an erratic driving pattern of slowing down, then accelerating repeatedly in a high crime area, supported the conclusion that Rice was armed and dangerous and that a pat-down search was needed for officer safety reasons. Rice's criminal record revealed a string of serious felonies. The back seat passenger's attempt to hide her identity suggested an effort to avoid detection of criminal conduct.