Douglas County Deputy Mark Mehrer ran a license plate check on a Chevrolet 1500 pickup and discovered that the truck belonged to Charles Glover Jr., whose driver’s license had been revoked. The deputy stopped the truck, assuming that Glover was driving. Glover was indeed driving and was charged with driving as a habitual violator. The trial court granted his motion to suppress all evidence from the stop holding that the deputy lacked reasonable suspicion and made the stop on a hunch. The Kansas Supreme Court agreed that the deputy violated the Fourth Amendment by stopping Glover without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The United States Supreme Court reversed holding that when the officer lacks information negating an inference that the owner is driving the vehicle, an investigative traffic stop made after running a vehicle’s license plate and learning that the registered owner’s driver’s license has been revoked is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. An officer may initiate a brief investigative traffic stop when he has “a particularized and objective basis” to suspect wrongdoing. The level of suspicion required is less than necessary for probable cause and depends on “the factual and practical considerations of everyday life.” The deputy’s common sense inference that the owner of a vehicle was likely its driver provided reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop. Empirical studies demonstrate that drivers with suspended or revoked licenses frequently continue to drive. Officers, like jurors, may rely on probabilities in the reasonable suspicion context. The presence of additional facts might dispel reasonable suspicion but this deputy possessed no information to rebut the reasonable inference that Glover was driving his own truck.
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