Reasonable suspicion existed to turn a traffic stop into a Terry Stop and visibly looking under the car without touching it was not a Fourth Amendment violation and observation established probable cause for subsequent seizure of drugs above the spare tire.

The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress evidence recovered during a traffic stop. The court held that the officer had reasonable suspicion based on several specific and interrelated facts to extend the stop. In this case, the officer saw an out-of-state truck with paper tags driving in the middle of the night; he discovered neither adult in the vehicle had a driver’s license and the paper tags were expired; there was some confusion as to the name of the owner; the purported purpose for the trip was a two-to-three-day painting job, but no supplies were present other than one can of paint; he learned all of this after having his suspicion piqued by the fact that defendant and his partner gave different names; and he thought it unusual that an unlicensed driver would bring small children and an unlicensed partner/significant other with him for the midnight travel in the unlicensed vehicle for a short term out-of-state job. The court also held that, absent a physical trespass and during an otherwise lawfully extended stop, an officer may look at the undercarriage of a vehicle without probable cause. Finally, the officer had probable cause and had a legal basis for the subsequent seizure of the black plastic bag located above a spare tire.

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