Under search and siezure laws- the fourth amendment- where does a driver license and registration fall? A specific situation is I was parked and the officer came up an demanded for my drivers...

Under search and siezure laws- the fourth amendment- where does a driver license and registration fall? A specific situation is I was parked and the officer came up an demanded for my drivers license and registration, no probable cause. I do not think that there is probable cause so evidence after the initial siezure can be suppressed, right?

Asked on by yesman18

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larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Your interpretation of your constitutional protection is misplaced. The Constitution protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures. Additionally, the officer did not "seize" your driver's license or registration, he simply asked to see them. The Courts have determined this to be a reasonable request, and therefore you have no right to refuse. The inherent danger to the officer himself by your refusal to provide identification is greater than your right to privacy, which is the only right you would argue to support your refusal to show your driver's license. 

Also, the officer does not need "probable cause." The constitution provides that a warrant cannot be issued except on "probable cause of arrest." In the present instance, you were not arrested; you were simply asked to provide identifying information. The officer might also have reasonably asked why you were where you were.  If, upon asking for your license, an illegal substance or evidence of a crime is in plain sight, again no warrant is needed. If you wish to argue violation of your constitutional rights, I suggest you pick another fight than this one, which you will most assuredly lose.  

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bor's profile pic

bor | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

In the back of my mind, I seem to remember some cases where the court had to determine if an officer approached a vehicle when it was parked, as opposed to stopping a moving one, and asked to see a DL, was that a Seizure? I would have to research that.

Let's assume it is for discussion purposes. First, if he has reason to ask you, the federal constitution, nor does any state constitution I remember, demand it be based on probable cause. Only a "reasonable suspicion" criminal activity may be afoot (from Terry v. Ohio) is necessary, and criminal means any offense, regardless of classification, even infraction.

Assuming it was not a seizure, there is nothing in the federal constitution that forbids an officer from approaching a person and asking to see an I.D.

As an example, some state DUI laws say if a person is behind the wheel while intoxicated, even if not actually caught driving, they can be charged with DUI.

Could be the same applies to a DL, if you are behind the wheel, it is presumed you have been/will be driving and can be required to show it upon demand, that would take some research.

Bottom line, if it was not a seizure, any evidence found is not barred under the Exclusionary Rule. The exact facts concerning the discovery of contraband would help, if this is a real scenario.

If it was an UNconstituional seizure, then yes, any evidence could be suppressed as a result of it.

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