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Thursday, May 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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U.S. Supreme Court backs police in traffic stops in 8-1 ruling

UPDATED: Mon., April 6, 2020

In this March 16, 2020 photo, people walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (Patrick Semansky / AP)
In this March 16, 2020 photo, people walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (Patrick Semansky / AP)
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Police can pull over a car when they know only that its owner’s license is invalid, even if they don’t know who’s behind the wheel, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court said in an 8-1 decision that unless there’s reason to believe otherwise, it’s common sense for an officer to think the car’s owner will be driving.

“Empirical studies demonstrate what common experience readily reveals: Drivers with revoked licenses frequently continue to drive and therefore to pose safety risks to other motorists and pedestrians,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

The high court reversed a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that found police violated a driver’s constitutional rights when they stopped his pickup based only on information that the truck owner’s license had been revoked.

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