State v. BrownAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress all evidence obtained after a stop of his vehicle, holding that the subjective motivations of an individual officer for making a traffic stop are irrelevant as long as the officer has objectively reasonable cause to believe the motorist violated a traffic law.
A police officer observed Defendant making an improper turn and, after following Defendant, noticed Defendant's vehicle had an improperly functioning license plate light. The vehicle information for the registered owner - who was not Defendant - revealed the registered owner's affiliation to gang activity. The officer pulled Defendant over and discovered Defendant's open beer container in the center cupholder. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the stop was unconstitutional because the officer's reasons for the stop were not the traffic violations themselves. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that traffic stops for traffic violations are reasonable regardless of the officer's subjective motivation.