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Old January 19, 2013, 11:48 AM   #27
Senior Member
Join Date: May 12, 2002
Location: MO
Posts: 4,911
Without referring to printed data....

A stop for a traffic violation gets you 'lawful detention'. You can ask general questions but if you don't develop reasonable suspicion that a crime is afoot, the officer needs to finish his his business and cut that person loose. This is assuming the traffic violation isn't for an arrestable offense like DWI, Driving While Suspended, etc.

Reasonable suspicion occurs when the officer sees/hears/smells things that cause him to reasonably believe that a crime is afoot. Occupants of a vehicle fidgeting about, stories between occupants of the car that are 180 degrees apart, etc. Disagreement between license plate registration and the vehicle it's on, disparities of presented identification vs the person before me, etc.

Probable cause occurs when I see that which convinces me that the person before me has committed a crime. Say I stop a car with a single occupant. The driver starts shoving things under the seat as soon as the wheels stop rolling. I walk to the car, he cracks his window and a cloud of MJ smoke boils out. Bingo, probable cause to remove the driver, question him, detain him and search the vehicle whether he likes it or not.

Terry searches (stop and frisk) is authorized if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime and he has a reasonable belief that you may be armed and presently dangerous. That's it.

Of course they can ask to pat you down and many will. Personally, I don't use that 'for my safety and yours' line. I'm in a dangerous business. At least it isn't boring
“Nine-tenths of tactics are certain, and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals. It can only be ensured by instinct, sharpened by thought practicing the stroke so often that at the crisis it is as natural as a reflex.” ~ T. E. Lawrence

Last edited by Sarge; January 19, 2013 at 12:04 PM.
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