September 15, 2006 2:29 PM PDT

Police blotter: When can cops run license-plate searches?

"Police blotter" is a weekly News.com report on the intersection of technology and the law.

What: A Michigan man who was arrested after a police officer checked his license plate against a computer database tried to suppress that evidence on privacy grounds.

When: The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Sept. 5.

Outcome: Defendant loses when appeals court rules that Americans have no Fourth Amendment protection against computer checks--even extensive ones--of their license-plate numbers.

What happened, according to court documents:

When Officer Mark Keeley of the Farmington Hills, Mich., police department was driving around a local shopping center, he noticed a white van idling in the lane closest to the stores. A man was inside and the lane was marked with "Fire Lane" and "No Parking" signs.

Keeley entered the vehicle's license-plate number into his patrol car's Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN). According to the Michigan state government's Web site (PDF), LEIN databases include missing persons, Michigan state criminal history, prison and parole information, and a list of wanted people from the National Crime Information Center.

The LEIN search showed that the vehicle was registered to Curtis Ellison, a black man who had an outstanding felony warrant. Keeley called for backup, approached the van and arrested Ellison. During the arrest, Ellison was found to have two firearms. He was later indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of federal law.

The trial judge ruled, however, that the van was not parked illegally and therefore Keeley did not have probable cause to run the LEIN check of the van's license plate. Therefore, the judge reasoned, the results of the LEIN check should be suppressed, including the discovery of Ellison's two firearms.

The U.S. Attorney's office appealed, saying that Americans have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their license-plate numbers, and therefore police need no probable cause to conduct computer checks.

In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel from the 6th Circuit agreed. They said that "a motorist has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the information contained on his license plate under the Fourth Amendment...The very purpose of a license plate number, like that of a Vehicle Identification Number, is to provide identifying information to law enforcement officials and others." (The majority also rejected Ellison's argument that he was racially profiled because he was black.)

In a dissent, however, Judge Karen Nelson Moore said the U.S. Attorney raised the argument at a late stage and it should be rejected. Without more information collected by the trial judge, such as how much information on the general public is available on the LEIN system, Moore said, it's impossible to evaluate how intrusive the computer check is.

Moore said that the key point was not whether police could read someone's license plate but under what circumstances they could perform an extensive search of computer databases. She said the FBI's National Crime Information Center system contains more than 23 million records about people and vehicles--not all accurate or up-to-date--and "allowing the information contained therein to form the basis for a seizure without any other heightened suspicion, let alone probable cause, compounds the risk of privacy intrusions that errors in these databases impose."

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97 comments

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Privacy?
Not to say that this technique (scanning everyone) is ethical, but how is this a privacy issue. You are obligated to have your lisence out in public exactly so that it can be checked at anytime. What expectation of privacy is there?
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Slippery Slope
And this is a steep slope. We are not far from a time when our
government and businesses will have the abilitity to identify us by
things like our cell phones, RFID license plates, electronic ID cards,
etc. If you give up your fourth admentment rights in this willy nilly
license plate check, you're just a sheep.
Posted by bvdon (231 comments )
Link Flag
Don't jump to conclusions
I'm a big time privacy person, and even I think this is fine. License plates are for the purpose of identifying the people who own and drive them. I see no reason to scan licenses. They are shown in public and should be able to be scanned by the police.

You are driving in the public with a license plate that is public knowledge, its not like a cop is scanning your license in your garage.
Posted by aSiriusTHoTH (176 comments )
Link Flag
it's not the license plate it's the database idiot
the issue isn't the viewing of the license plate, the issue is the accessing of corresponding databases with multitudes of information. Read the dissenting opinion of the brilliant judge who wrote it. These other judges voted the way they did because they are trying to kiss George Bush and the Republican's ***** for future political reasons.
Posted by enigma.live (48 comments )
Link Flag
No way - The ******* police are to respond to matters that actually deserve police attention, such as threats of harm, acts of violence, or likely and suggested imminent harm.
The role is not a license to control or regulate non harmful human behavior and interaction.

It's not your fault, the system made you accept all this ********...
Posted by logiosiis (1 comment )
Link Flag
Inevitable discovery?
The law of the land says that we should not have to endure unreasonable searches. To conduct a records search without any reason is unreasonable. Its not that the police can read license plates; its what they do with that information that constitutes a search. It requires effort that goes far beyond what any casual passer by could or would be able to do in terms of obtaining information about the driver. What if there were a commercially available to the public equivalent to the police ability to get information about you from you cars plates, would you consider that a violation of your privacy?

From what I read, the vehicle in question could have been ticketed for where it was parked. As a matter of routine procedure a check would have been run and the identity of the driver would inevitably have been discovered.
Posted by Soulwolf (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All Super See, No Privacy
Judge Moore in his dissent opinion gets right to the heart of the matter here. At what point do we draw the line of search in public by someone not breaking the law or acting in an overly suspicious manner? Does the mere fact that someone is in public mean that they cannot expect any privacy from government officials that feel it necessary to investigate the legal status of anyone within their reach? Here is an example that is likely to happen in the near future. Facial recognition software exists and has been used to scan Superbowl crowds. Suppose this was used in airports to scan all travelers for known suspects? Most people would agree that forsaking privacy rights in exchange for enhanced airline security is reasonable. What if scanning was done in a public area in a major city? The fact of the matter is that security cameras are ubiquitous in shopping establishments and increasingly in metropolitan public areas. Of course every new intrusive method of observation by law enforcement officials is always justified on the grounds of providing greater safety, cutting crime, and catching terrorists. It seems that the linking of criminal data bases with security cameras and recognition software by legal authorities will be irresistible. The reports of police scanning license plate numbers of random drivers passing by is in reality a form of "search" without probable cause. It is roughly the equivalent of the NSA data mining all phone and Internet transmissions for potentially ones of interest without probable cause or a warrant from a judge.
The problem of defending what "privacy" expectations and rights should be is the thoughtless veal with which so many elected and appointed officials are working towards legitimizing the ever increasing power and reach of various governmental agencies. As citizens increasingly become accustomed to greater scrutiny and surveillance made possible by technological advances it becomes easier for judges to proclaim that there is little or no "expectation" of privacy in a given situation. We become familiar with being continuously observed by greater use of technical devices so it follows that government intrusion and investigation is reasonable.
The uphill battle of preserving privacy rights in this country is in large part due to how such actions are characterized by politicians and legal authorities who dislike the restraint of their power by a Constitutional abstract. To defend the rights of undesirable suspects is to be "soft on crime, terrorism, fill in the blank". Government agencies will always crave and try to employ new tools to further their goals. Intentions may be good and hearts may be pure but history's pages are filled with abuses.
Posted by zanzzz (138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
All Super See, No Privacy
Judge Moore in his dissent opinion gets right to the heart of the matter here. At what point do we draw the line of search in public by someone not breaking the law or acting in an overly suspicious manner? Does the mere fact that someone is in public mean that they cannot expect any privacy from government officials that feel it necessary to investigate the legal status of anyone within their reach? Here is an example that is likely to happen in the near future. Facial recognition software exists and has been used to scan Superbowl crowds. Suppose this was used in airports to scan all travelers for known suspects? Most people would agree that forsaking privacy rights in exchange for enhanced airline security is reasonable. What if scanning was done in a public area in a major city? The fact of the matter is that security cameras are ubiquitous in shopping establishments and increasingly in metropolitan public areas. Of course every new intrusive method of observation by law enforcement officials is always justified on the grounds of providing greater safety, cutting crime, and catching terrorists. It seems that the linking of criminal data bases with security cameras and recognition software by legal authorities will be irresistible. The reports of police scanning license plate numbers of random drivers passing by is in reality a form of "search" without probable cause. It is roughly the equivalent of the NSA data mining all phone and Internet transmissions for potentially ones of interest without probable cause or a warrant from a judge.
The problem of defending what "privacy" expectations and rights should be is the thoughtless veal with which so many elected and appointed officials are working towards legitimizing the ever increasing power and reach of various governmental agencies. As citizens increasingly become accustomed to greater scrutiny and surveillance made possible by technological advances it becomes easier for judges to proclaim that there is little or no "expectation" of privacy in a given situation. We become familiar with being continuously observed by greater use of technical devices so it follows that government intrusion and investigation is reasonable.
The uphill battle of preserving privacy rights in this country is in large part due to how such actions are characterized by politicians and legal authorities who dislike the restraint of their power by a Constitutional abstract. To defend the rights of undesirable suspects is to be "soft on crime, terrorism, fill in the blank". Government agencies will always crave and try to employ new tools to further their goals. Intentions may be good and hearts may be pure but history's pages are filled with abuses.
Posted by zanzzz (138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's a load of crap.
Police have always been allowed to visually search everyone who
passes by and compare them to photographs of wanted people.
Wanted posters have been around since Gutenberg invented the
printing press. This is no different, only more efficient.

There is only one reason to have license plates, and that is to
identify the owner of the vehicle. If you don't want to be
identified, don't drive a vehicle you own on public streets. Don't
go out in public for that matter.

Arguing against this is just playing into the hands of the ultra
right wing, making liberals look bad so that when they ask for
better wages for the working poor or true protection of civil
rights, it's easier for those in power to reject them.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
Thank you for a very intelligent opinion...
So few seem to realize the vast difference between any "reasonable" invasion of peoples privacy, for LEGITIMATE "law-enforcement" concerns, ...and that which has simply become the de-facto expectation of, so-called, "law-enforcement" behavior, these days.

When I was a younger-American, a person could NOT be arrested for failing to show identification (their official government-papers) just for walking down a public-street. A citizen could travel in public without being video-taped by dozens of government video-cameras. The "police" could not just search ANYONES person, or investigate any NON-SUSPECTS "background", without legally justifiable "probable cause", or "suspicion". And, the government could not "read my mail", and "listen to my phone calls", just because they wanted to... And, they also could not use some blanket, vague, ever-present, unending, non-specific "security" rationalization (drugs, child-porn, terrorism, copyright-infringement, etc.) for any such violation of my BASIC "Constitutionally-protected" "...right to privacy".

Things certainly HAVE changed... But, clearly, NOT for any "legitimate" reason, ...or for the better, ...or for "a safer America". And, the RATIONALIZATIONS for being FORCED to live in such a, "high-tech", totalitarian police-state, have become ever more preposterous and mundane.

In fact, "our government" is now openly committing acts that were previously used as examples of EXACTLY what was WRONG, with TOTALITARIAN (I.E. EVIL) REGIMES outside the U.S.

It seems that Politicians, and "big-money interests" are now, openly, wantonly CORRUPT, ARROGANT, and virtually untouchable, ...while the average CITIZEN is more monitored, and powerless, than at almost any time before in American-history...

...Except, of course, during "prohibition", the "McCarthy Era", and the "Nixon administration". Three periods that clearly demonstrated the VERY WORST POTENTIALS for such government ABUSES of authority, and its detrimental-impact on American-society.

I dont know which is sadder... That, over our history, "our government" keeps falling into the most egregious-traps of such, self-serving, authoritarian-bureaucracies... Or, that, the American-people just keep letting it happen.
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Link Flag
Not Correct
The error in the basic logic of "mere fact of that someone is in public" should protect privacy does not extend to motor vehicles. Operating a motor vehicle on public roads is not merely being in public. The state mandates that vehicle be registered with the state and certified safe in order to operate on state (and local) owned roadways. The public display of a license exists for law enforcement to easily verify the motor vehicle complies with the law. It does not constitute a search to cross reference a licenese plate number against an already available database. It is afterall, the state that grants you permission to use the road.
Posted by jmmejzz (107 comments )
Link Flag
well put....I couldn't agree with you more...
Posted by yourrights1974 (3 comments )
Link Flag
And also license plates were created to regulate vehicles, not so that police can randomly check to see who you are... it's clearly evident by which the reasoning was to use license plates in the first place, and clarified to this day with a new decal for the upcoming taxed year.... any use by LEO was an after thought and I wouldn't imagine that in 1903 it was with the intent to allow officers randomly check citizens criminal status!
Posted by yourrights1974 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Drivers Privacy Protection Act
I wonder if the Court of Appeals ignored the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, if as the majority believes that their's no reasonable protection of privacy, than why did congress enact a law specifically title "Driver's Privacy Protection Act" this is another example of courts saying "YOU HAVE NO REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY, PERIOD!!!" Scary.Scary.Scary.Police.Should not be allowed to arbitrarily match license-plate numbers to databases of other private information without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If this were the case, the police could spot people with previous traffic violations and continuously pick on them, harass them, follow them and know that accusing them of a new violation will be a much easier process for them in the courts. People please stand up for your rights NOW...DON'T BE SO STUPID...CALL YOUR CONGRESSMAN NOW....
Posted by enigma.live (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
you're misinformed
If you had ever bothered to *read* the act, you'd know that your post is a load of crap.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.accessreports.com/statutes/DPPA1.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.accessreports.com/statutes/DPPA1.htm</a>

Under "Permissible Uses" there are over a dozen allowed uses such as "(1) For use by any government agency, including any court or law enforcementagency, in carrying out its functions, or any private person or entity acting on behalf of aFederal, State, or local agency in carrying out its functions".

Moron.
Posted by anonymous_coward1010 (11 comments )
Link Flag
you're misinformed
If you had ever bothered to *read* the act, you'd know that your post is a load of crap.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.accessreports.com/statutes/DPPA1.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.accessreports.com/statutes/DPPA1.htm</a>

Under "Permissible Uses" there are over a dozen allowed uses such as "(1) For use by any government agency, including any court or law enforcementagency, in carrying out its functions, or any private person or entity acting on behalf of aFederal, State, or local agency in carrying out its functions".
Posted by anonymous_coward1010 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Happens All The Time. Happened To Me
I was recently pulled over by the the Paramilitary Police (PP), aka California Highway Patrol. I had done nothing wrong to warrant a pullover at 2:30 a.m. It was a dark road and unfortunately all the donuts shops were closed, so the PP had time on their hands. The Officle-sir asked to see my registration. Well it was 2 weeks overdue (due in the same month as the vehicle tags, so no outward indication of that). I was given a ticket and told to be a good, docile, compliant citizen and to go away before they shipped me off to Gitmo. Note to the Paramilitary Police: I won't be contributing to your widow and orphans fund this year.
Posted by CancerMan2 (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
driving while black?
I with ya brother!
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Link Flag
What a coward!
"Paramilitary Police?" "Driving while black?" - I would LOVE to see your butt on the line every day on the roads and highways. These guys dont know if when they get out of their car if it will be the last thing they ever do. The literally put their LIVES ON THE LINE for racist jackasses like you. If you are out driving around at 2:30 AM with expired tags you should expect a higher incidence of traffic stops. How many criminals act in broad day as opposed to the concealment of night? You just sit back and ***** and harrass them with your racist comments. And yeah, you can be black and be racist. Look up the definition in ANY dictionary. You ***** and complain when they are around that they are hasseling you and when something happens to you then you ***** that they weren't there to hold your hand. Make up your mind!
Posted by Sec tech (11 comments )
Link Flag
I too was recently stopped by a Porter Indiana police officer. I too had done nothing wrong to warrant a pullover on my way home from work. I guess he had to make his quota for the month! I had passed him parked along the highway. And I decided to pull off the road and turn around to stop at a friends to see if he could fix my car. I used my turn signal. Didn't do anything wrong and was turning around to go back to my friends road. And he pulled behind me and turned his lights on. And preceded to check my plates to find out that they were expired. And to top it off I had no way to prove my financial responsibity. So he was threatening to have my car towed. I begged him not too. So he decided to let me go. And gave me two tickets. The one was bad enough about the registration. The other I would lose my licence for 3 months. I cannot do that. I work 22 miles from work each way. And to this day I have no idea that I didn't have insurance. I was on my ex boyfriends insurance. And we broke up a few months ago.And h promised to leave me on his insurance til his policy ran out. And I am not able to prove that in court. Cannot get ahold of him. So I still got to go to court to fight it. And as for the license plate beind expired. I didn't know that/ I have alot of financial problems. My car place threatening to take my car and my landlord threatening to evict me. Trying wether or not to decide to file bankrupcy. And how to come up with the money. The stress has been unbelievable. I know that its not an excuse. But thats alot on anyones plate to handle.
Posted by katmandu13350 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Lets put this into perspective here.
First the man was parking in a NO PARKING zone. I'm not a cop and I'd tell you that if I was cruzing by and seen the act of parking in a no parking area then I would see who is parking there. After all, isn't it the cops job to be suspicious?

So the cop runs the plate and it turns out the man that OWNS the van is wanted. If you wanted to challenge the fact of running the plates than what the hell is the technology there for? That is the question you need to be asking. If you going to question the validity of the technology against something that was created TOO MANY years ago then you might as well throw away the technology.

So in retrospect something needs to be changed. Is it the Fourth Amendment Right that needs to be changed or cops running plates?


OneWithTech
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
change nothing
Personally I'm glad the cop ran the plates and took a dengerous criminal off the streets.

The 4th ammendment never came close to being violated.

As to probable cause, paring in a no parking zone, a fire lane at that, is probable cause enough, since it in itself is a "ticketable" infraction, and it's standard practice to run plates when writing a ticket.

Kudos to the cop for being alert.

If we restrict them from doing this kind of thing, it will result in only one thing - more criminals on the street.

If you have nothing to hide, then cops running plates shouldn't bother you.

If it does bother you then please go move to France or Canada and let the rest of us have peace of mind that the cops have the right tools for their job which is to arrest criminals.
Posted by anonymous_coward1010 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Neither...
&gt;&gt;&gt;Is it the Fourth Amendment Right that needs to be changed or cops running plates?&lt;&lt;&lt;

What needs to be done is how to teach a judge that parking in a no parking space is illegal.

Nothing else in this story really matters!!!

FWIW
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Link Flag
Thank You
Yes, I want the cops to look for suspicious looking vans parked in a no parking zone, parked in front of my house, parked in front of a store, parked in an alleyway, etc. That is their job. They are here to protect me! Arguing that the cop shouldn't have ran the plates is the stupidest thing I ever heard. This country is becoming a country of criminals. Criminals get off scott free and the good people get screwed.

Next thing people are going to say is that their face is private and they will walk around with a ski mask on...
Posted by Gasaraki (183 comments )
Link Flag
Need to get a new judge.
&gt;&gt;&gt;When Officer Mark Keeley of the Farmington Hills, Mich., police department was driving around a local shopping center, he noticed a white van idling in the lane closest to the stores. A man was inside and the lane was marked with "Fire Lane" and "No Parking" signs.&lt;&lt;&lt;

BUT

&gt;&gt;&gt;The trial judge ruled, however, that the van was not parked illegally and therefore Keeley did not have probable cause to run the LEIN check of the van's license plate.&lt;&lt;&lt;

If I parked in a fire lane which had a strict no parking sign on it... I would expect to be arrested.

Apparently this judge is living in another world!!!

Walt
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Idiling in a car in a fire lane is not parking
Idling in a car in a fire lane is not parking, I guess in your world everytime I pull up to pick up someone who was just in a Wal-Mart, I would be violating the law, and subjecting myself to letting the police ignore my 4th amendment rights to privacy. Since in your logic the police officer must have probable cause to believe I'm committing a crime by pulling up in front of a Wal-Mart which most all of are fire lane's in front of the Wal-Mart. So I'd appreciate before you so quickly vote to give up my rights, to atleast get yourself a better understanding of your constitutional amendments and rights before just blanket giving up your rights. By the way they are Rights and no one forces you to have to assert them, so if you don't want to assert your rights that's fine with me, but don't tell me that I can't assert my rights. You obviously are someone who has no problems letting your rights be trampled on.
Posted by enigma.live (48 comments )
Link Flag
Reasonable Expectation of Privacy
The dissenting judge should be commended for dissenting, read her opinion.

"An individual operating or traveling in an automobile does not lose all reasonable
expectation of privacy simply because the automobile and its use are subject to
government regulation. Automobile travel is a basic, pervasive, and often necessary
mode of transportation to and from ones home, workplace, and leisure activities.
Many people spend more hours each day traveling in cars than walking on the
streets. Undoubtedly, many find a greater sense of security and privacy in traveling
in an automobile than they do in exposing themselves by pedestrian or other modes
of travel. Were the individual subject to unfettered governmental intrusion every
time he entered an automobile, the security guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment
would be seriously circumscribed."
Posted by enigma.live (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
so what?
Nobody disagrees with anything this judge says in the section you've quoted. It's her conclusions that are wrong-headed. "Reasonable expectation of privacy" and "freedom from unreasonable search and seizure" do not mean what she tries to make them mean.

Liberal judges like her are elitist. They think only judges are trustworthy, so only judges can decide what laws mean and what the constitution means. Furthermore, they can make the laws and constitution mean whatever they think is best. To that I say: No dictators for me, thanks! The separation of powers is our best defense against tyranny. It is much harder to subvert a whole mess of elected legislators and executives than a few judges with lifetime appointments.
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Link Flag
License Plate searches
Time has now expired on your constituional rights. We are governed under the Uniform Commercial code. Forget Privacy and Freedom they were never yours in the first place.
Posted by doittodeath (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Driving Privileges
For those of you who don't know: 1st of all driving is a privilege,
not a right, 2nd I'd rather have the bad guys off the streets by
merely running plate checks rather creating crimes (particularly
violent ones), 3rd what do you have to hide anyway?

Those of you whining about your rights would be the first ones
to cry and wimper when some guy(s) robs you and/or your
family at gunpoint. It's funny how much you want the police
when you've been violated by a thug but please stay out my
rearview mirror right. Despite what the movies portray Cops are
the good guys. Stop assuming the worst from them. Majority
become police officers to help people.
Posted by cooldogjones (53 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why Not Search Every Car?
So driving is a privilege. Do we necessarily conclude that all privacy rights are waved simply because we are privileged to drive our vehicle on a public way? If you have ever bothered to read the Fourth Amendment you will find that it grants security to "persons, houses, papers, and EFFECTS, against unreasonable searches and seizures". I think a vehicle qualifies as an "effect" and for some people it is virtually a "house". I don't see the "privilege" clause that allows unfettered and unwarranted searches simply because you are issued a license to drive. To protest indefense of Constitutional rights is not to despise police or be hypercritical about law enforcement. Police usually act with good motives and will use whatever resources they are provided with to carry out their duties. It is the role of courts to decide the limits to their actions under Constitutional and other legal provisions.
The "nothing to hide" excuse worked so well in many societies like the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany and they didn't have a pesky Constitution always getting in the way of whatever the police or government agencies wished to do. I guess you long for the good old days. Maybe North Korea will take you in, I don't think they let these silly notions get in their way either.
Posted by zanzzz (138 comments )
Link Flag
Sigh Wrong again!
Driving is a right not a privilege! We have absolute right to the use of opur property in the manner for which it was intended so long as we do not harm others or infringe upon their rights in doing so. We also have the RIGHT to travel from point a to point b without restriction. Regulations and restrictions are two different things For example.. laws such as speed limits and traffic signals, stop signs and safe operation of a vehicle are permissable regulations. BUT things like Drivers licenses and mandatory insurance are NOT they are restrictions. A license is "permission" One does not need opermission to do what they already have a right to do.

*"No State entity has the power to allow or deny passage on the highways, byways, nor waterways...transporting his vehicles and personal property for either recreation or business, but by being subject only to local regulation, i.e., safety, caution, traffic lights, speed limits, etc. Travel is not a privilege requiring licensing, vehicle registration, or forced insurances." Chicago Coach Co. v. City of Chicago, 337 Ill. 200, 169 N.E. 22

AND

"The right to travel is an unconditional personal right whose exercise may not be conditioned." Dunn v Blumstein, 405 US 330, 92 S Ct 995, 31 L Ed 2d 274. [http://5 U.S.Dig, Constitutional Law, ¤ 101.5, Right of interstate or international travel.|http://5 U.S.Dig, Constitutional Law, ¤ 101.5, Right of interstate or international travel.]

So I don't care what drivers ed taught you or what your DMV publishes or even what those cute lil comercials have to say. you are WRONG Driving is a RIGHT not a privilege. And not ALL cops are good guys. when you have big billy bad butt wanna be telling you he IS the law while rocking back and forth on his heels and holding on to his belt buckle I would say he is not one of the real good guys.
Posted by IFAC (9 comments )
Link Flag
Big Brother is here
Wrong, Big Brother has been here for years. The abilities of law enforcement and government agencies has been well documented, but is really only the half of it. You are being scanned, observed, and scrutinized every day. And in 99.99 percent of the time, you don't even know it. The devices around you are all subject to being used clandestinely to observe and track you everywhere you go. RFID, GPS, your cell phone, your new car, even your passport and drivers license can and in most cases have RFID tags and chips in them. If you break the law and are observed by any of these devices, you're busted. Either by video cameras, which are everywhere these days, or simple observation by law enforcement agencies, your passage is recorded and noted. Parking in a red zone, fire lane or plainly posted no parking/ no stopping zone is one sure way to draw additional attention to yourself. DUH, wake the hell up, if you break the law, however tiny an infraction, you will be caught. Concerned about your privacy being violated in public, then stay home, out of sight. Remember, your phone and computer lines are not private and subject to being intercepted. If you are a crook, look out, you will be caught and made to pay with the ultimate price, the forfeiture of that prized but illusionary possession--PRIVACY. No need to feel paranoid unless you are a law breaker.
Posted by mjd420nova (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hmm
You forgot the black helicopters.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Exigent circumstances, people.
It'll sound like I'm taking both sides, but I'm not. I'm actually not taking either.

On the first hand, the man was parked illegally. That gives the officer the right to run the plates.

HOWEVER...the plate run is exclusive and limited to the sole purposes of (1) identifying its owner, (2) seeing if it's stolen, and (3) verifying its registration status. Everything else should be suppressed, as it's not relevant to the reason the cop ran the plate: a parking violation.

So, the cop was right in being able to run the plate. That's not the issue. The issue is whether the other information farmed from the plate can be used against the man, and I say no.
Posted by ReVeLaTeD (755 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What???
So you are saying an arrest warrent can't be linked to the license plate number? Are you trying to help criminals here? Jeez...
Posted by Gasaraki (183 comments )
Link Flag
Read the Decision in Entirety People
The courts ruled in this matter that the vehicle was not parked illegally. FYI, sitting in an idle car straddling a fire lane and no parking area is not parking, it's being in actual physical control of the vehicle. The driver didn't leave the car, the car was running, pulling up to a sidewalk at a Wal-Mart for instance which usually is a fire lane and no parking area, to drop someone off or pick someone up does not constitute illegal parking. Please people stop being so quick to think everything people do is illegal this or that. Your making our world a living hell, where everyone at any given time is breaking the law and so therefore has no rights. You all remind me of an ex-wife, someone who thinks without logic and reason.
Posted by enigma.live (48 comments )
Link Flag
huh?
So if the owner of the car was wanted for major crimes this info should be suppressed? Hardly!
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Privacy vs Security - Where do we draw the line?
Essentially, there are two mutually exclusive needs at work. One is the need for privacy---the expectation that honest, law-abiding citizens have a right not to expose some aspects of their lives to other people. The other is the need for security---the expectation that law enforcment officials/government agencies need to know some information about people in order to prevent or prosecute crimes.

So where do we draw the line? Is any activity in a public place subject to monitoring? If so, what is a public place? And, if so, to what extent?

I feel a license plate itself is public property and can be scanned. However, the contents of the person's vehicle and such are private property and need a compelling need to search (i.e. a warrant).

However, I feel any monitoring MUST be judged on its benefit to society at large --- if it merely "moves" crimes, it has no benefit. That is what happens with the many cameras in the UK---they merely move the crimes to non-camera areas.

I feel if a type or degree of monitoring does not provide compelling success, the rights of privacy for all people must be paramount.
Posted by bluemist9999 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Public or private
I feel a license plate itself is public property and can be scanned.

Then let our tax dollars cover the cost of our plates and then they can claim they are public property. I paid for them they are in my name they are MINE.
Posted by IFAC (9 comments )
Link Flag
Officer Safety
As part of my duties with a local agency, we run the license plate of any vehicle that is stopped or when we are out of our patrol car to make a contact with the public. This isn't to be nosy, but instead it is for our own safety. We will call in to dispatch that we are out with so and so a car with plate number ABC123 at so and so address. Before we step out of the car, we run that plate so we can check the history. If the RO (registered owner)has had a history of physical violence or threats/assaults on officers, we need to know that before we get out of the car.

This not only helps us to determine how to approach the situation, but also if something happens to us and we are unable to respond to the radio, the dispatcher has a record of what we were doing, where we were, and what vehicle was stopped. That gives other officers a starting point to try to figure out what happened and who to contact.

Do we run plates just out of curiosity? Yes, there are times when you do because the way a car is being driven or something about the driver just makes you suspicious. Most people will look at a patrol car when it's on the road. Those that go out of their way to pointedly NOT look are suspicious and you run the plates just to be sure. Most of the time everything is fine. Sometimes you run across that vehicle that has someone in it you are looking for. You don't know until you check.

It's for both the public and officer's safety to check these things out.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
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Driving While Black
I guess you just made the case for the blacks who are afraid of Driving While Black. You say, if you see something suspicious, so I guess that means there's nothing, no law that would prevent you from accessing license plates of a black driver simply because you the police officer thought they looked suspicious. I guess we should have the government run a scientific research to determine how often black drivers have these curiosity/suspicious checks vs. white drivers. Someone want to apply for a grant? I guess more than likely certain cars get their license plate checked more than others for example Sports Car vs. Family Mini-Van. Officer safety is important but if you feel that you need to break people's privacy rights to be safe then maybe you're not cut out for the job.
Posted by enigma.live (48 comments )
Link Flag
Exactly!
And thank you for your service.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Suspicious?
define suspicious? As it pertainst to the dirver that is. Are you saying that If I don't look at a police officer in his car I am suspicious? I think i would rather keep my eyes on the road and NOT get into an accident then to look at you and hit someone thank you and because I do not look at you does not make me suspicious it means I could care less that you are there or not. But in being there if I am NOT doinging anything wrong you have no business running my plates and you would most definatly be suspended just like the officer who did it to me.
Posted by IFAC (9 comments )
Link Flag
What's the difference?
I hope that everyone agrees that it is OK for police (whether in uniform or not) to look at peoples' faces and compare them with their memory of "wanted" posters.

So, then, what is the fundamental difference between this acceptable behavior and automated scanning of faces at a mall, stadium, airport, or any other public place? All you are doing is replacing human eyes with a camera, human memory with computer memory, and human recognition algorithms with computer recognition algorithms.

And the same argument holds for license plates, or VINs, or anything else that is plainly visible. So, it is perfectly acceptable for police to look through the window into my car to see if there is something suspicious. They don't even need probable cause. But they can't force me to open the trunk without a warrant.

You might try to argue that, in running plates, police are making use of info that is unavailable to the general public. That's not quite true. If I see a neighbor driving dangerously, I can write down the plate number and call the police, who will then run the plate number. If the person turns out to be wanted, they'll tell me to call them when he returns home and then they'll move in. And if he is not wanted, I can still swear out a complaint against him. If several people are witnesses, you can get someone ticketed with no police witnesses. So clearly the license plate info is available to and can be used by the general public, just not directly.
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not given
But you are not given that information it is simply accessable to LEO's.
Posted by IFAC (9 comments )
Link Flag
Unfortunately it takes a criminal
It's only when a criminal gets his privacy violated do people ever find out about these invasions. We don't hear about how many invasions happen that the police do not expose. Someone mentioned that the NSA likely is data mining this forum, well all you innocents,nothing to hide people are having your rights violated. The issue of nothing to hide is not relevant, some people are not bothered with what they perceive as "minor intrusions" while others do not agree, it's those others whose privacy then matters. I guess if you have nothing to hide then I'm sure you wouldn't mind the police anytime they choose putting a camera in your bathroom at home, now you'll probably say this is quite an extreme example and a major intrusion. Well it's just to show that we all have different lines of what we consider private, and just because you have no problem with a license plate search with no probable cause doesn't mean I do. The issue of being parked illegally in this matter was resolved by the courts in that the vehicle was not parked illegally, thus the issue then became about can a search be done without cause. Unfortunately this is not the case I would've chose to defend privacy on license plate information, however it's here to discuss. Just remember that now your ok with the next time a local sheriff checking out license plates of everyone at a party of the candidate who opposes him for the next election, and just remember your ok with a license plate check next time your parked at a strip club or at a gay bar. No one said a police officer shouldn't check a license plate if their's reasonable suspicion or probable cause, I'm just saying stop the curiosity checks and other hidden agenda checks that have nothing to do with law enforcement. Case law is not about the specific incident that occurred it's about the issue at hand.
Posted by enigma.live (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My Crazy Ex has been Doing it for Some Time!
My crazy ex has been doing that sort of thing for sometime, trying to convince me that it's God and the like [she's suffers from Narcassistic Personality Disorder - Evangelical]... From time to time, if I change my tags, she would 'befriend' some dumb cop and have him run them in an attempt to find out if the car's actually mind and/or to find out where I live...
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It sounds like the license i.d. system worked exactly as intended: Identifying and apprehending someone with an outstanding felony warrant, illegally in possession of two guns.

They weren't doing this check to embarrass this guy, they used the system to pick him out of the law-abiding people at the shopping center, and remove him so he would not be a danger to them.

You license plate is not your property. It belongs to the state.

If you are in "public view" you do not have an expectation of privacy. The police were not peeking in this guys bedroom window to view his plate.

Police, as part of their duties, have access to privileged information that the public does not have. They may have run this license, and if it came back with no hits, they would have driven off and left this guy alone.

The law is based on a "reasonable person" standard.
In this case would you prefer that:

...the police did not have the ability to find out this guys was a wanted felon and left him and his two guns in the shopping center?

-or-

...the police had run this guys plates, found out that he WAS a wanted felon, and just left him there in the shopping center because they were not allowed to act on the information?

-or-

...done exactly what they did: hooked him up and got him off the streets?

Which do you think is most reasonable? I am in favor of getting him off the streets, even if it means the cops may occasionally look up MY plates and find out that I am NOT wanted. That is the trade off we have to make. If they can't look up my plate, they couldn't look up his plate. I'm willing to live with that.
Posted by drkimca (2 comments )
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I DON'T THINK IT'S FAIR FOR THE POLICE TO JUST RUN PEOPLE PLATES.I THINK IT IS INVADING,,,MY SITUATION IS...I GOT PULLED OVER BECAUSE MY CAR IS IN MY HUSBAND'S NAME AND HIS LICENCE IS SUSPENDED..THE COP TOLD ME THAT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO RUN ANY PLATES,BUT AT THE SAME TIME HE CAN CLEARLY SEE THAT I'M NOT A MAN..YET AND STILL ONCE THEY PULL YOU OVER THEY LOOK FOR A REASON TO WRITE YOU A TICKET,AND THE REASON ISN'T THE REASON WHY THEY CLAIM TO HAVE PULLED YOU OVER.I FEEL HARRESSED BY COPS AND THEY HAVE ME AFRAID OF DRIVING MY OWN CAR,,CAUSE NOW I KNOW THEY CAN JUST RUN PLATES AND EVERY TIME I GET PULLED OVER THEY FOUND A WAY TO TICKET ME..I GOT TWO TICKETS IN A WEEKS TIME DUE TO THEM RUNNING MY PLATES,,I THINK IT'S UNFAIR AND UNREASONABLE HOW THEY CAN JUST DO THAT.CONSIDERING MY HUSBAND'S LICENSE IS THE ONE SUSPENDED SO WHY DO I RISK GETTING PULLED OVER EVERY TIME...I THINK IT'S A BUNCH OF BULL ****,,AND I THINK THE POLICE SHOULD SHOW THEIR FOLLOW CITIZENS THAT THEIR HERE FOR US AND NOT AGAINST US...DUE TO OUR LIVES BEING UNDER THE EYES OF THE LAW THE POLICE IS GAINING MORE AND MORE CONTROL OVER OUR DOING.NEXT THEY GO PULL US OVER FOR DRIVING A CAR THEY THINK WE SHOULDN'T DRIVE.
Posted by aaniya27 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Becuase of thsi rulling, we have a police officer who runs plate at the school meetings to see what parents care about their children. Runs plates while we are in church, and also while we are at the Veteran club to see who drinks in town. He does it in plain sight, so you can see he is doing it. Some people are stopping from going to these places because of it. Need to state he says becuase they use public parking he has the right
Posted by PatIrish (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I don't think it should matter what you drive, what the person looks like or how many times they stop at stores or houses. no officer of the law should have the right to run your tags cause they "THINK" something looks suspicious. Unless I'm doing something that I'm not supposed to. no one should have the right to run my plates. I'm about to go to court because an officer ran my plates because they was checking to see if i had insurance on my vehicle. Yeah i was stopped once before because of it but it was what 2 years ago??? come on Last time i check I believe it's invasion of privacy. Nothing like having police officers turn around in the road to run your plates instead of chasing a car going down the road without its lights on in a town full of drunk college students late on a Thursday night. If i was a parent with a child in college knowing what all goes on that late at night I'd be pretty upset if I seen that happen. But instead once again that night my plates were ran. I think I chose the wrong job I should of been a cop. Instead of what I'm doing nothing. Oh I forgot I lost my job because my Id was taken from me once again along with my vehicle. Someone was good enough to give me a job so that I could slowly climb out of this hole I'm in and get caught up. Maybe be able to buy my kids birthday presents and maybe even other things. But this isn't all about me I'm sure I'm not the only one in this world who has ran into this problem. It's things like this that should get fixed. No one has the right to invade your personal space unless they have probable cause. NO ONE
Posted by think64 (1 comment )
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1984.... Big Brother Is Watching... America has lost its civil liberties... The Patriot Act has destroyed our freedom. License Plate Recognition Software is approved by Supreme Court. Face recognition will soon be allowed. Just look at every intersection, cameras are at the ready & all is needed is to download the face recognition software. This is exactly what the terrorists wanted. Say goodbye to the 4th ammendment and the other ammendments too. Our founding fathers are probably rolling in their graves.
Posted by kasper481 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
what if there was a different person driving the car that isnt on the license plate. so because the lincense plate says the person that owns the car is on probation, that person should be pulled over? thats not right. just like i dont think all cops are bad ones. all humans should have the right as any other when pertaining to anything. i know i get pulled over alot for not doing anything wrong cause of what the lincense plate says. infact i let other people drive my car and i drive their cars which is in a older lady's name with no crimes and do things wrong and dont get pulled over, but she gets pulled over in my car's through out the years!
Posted by policelie2 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
"the lane was marked with 'Fire Lane' and 'No Parking' signs."
"The trial judge ruled, however, that the van was not parked illegally and therefore Keeley did not have probable cause to run the LEIN check of the van's license plate."

Well, which is it? Or was the judge making the silly argument that the vehicle was STOPPED in a fire lane, but not PARKED in a fire lane? Like that makes a difference...
Posted by FoolKiller (409 comments )
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