Utah supreme court OK’s and green-lights passenger ID checks
In a unanimous ruling, the Utah Supreme Court has green-lighted the investigation of passengers in a detained vehicle, overturning a lower court decision.
The court held that passenger warrant and background checks can be made even if there is no suspicion of criminal activity.
In 2014, a lower court ruled that such checks were “beyond the scope of a routine traffic stop.”
The case involved a stop by the Utah Highway Patrol for improper lane change. After checking, the trooper found a passenger had an outstanding arrest warrant and also possessed a meth pipe containing residue.
The main factor the high court found in grounding its ruling was officer safety.
Originally, a lower court ruled that the officer conducting the stop in question violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the vehicles passenger. Utah’s Supreme Court, however, ruled that the request of a passenger’s identification does not significantly lengthen the duration of the traffic stop and that the identification was handed over voluntarily after being asked.