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    Speak Up! - View Question #23998


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    Question:

    If you are driving and get pulled over for speeding can the officer pull you and your friends out of the car to question you?



    Answer:

    The Fourth Amendment protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures. There is a “seizure” when a police officer prevents a person from walking away. In this situation, a reasonable person would believe that they were not free to walk away from the officer.  So, the question is whether detaining you and your friends would be reasonable under the circumstances.  A traffic violation, like speeding, justifies the police in making a traffic stop.

    Detaining your friends to ask them questions is a different issue because they did not violate the traffic laws.  However, a police officer may detain someone briefly to question them when the police officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that there may be criminal activity occurring. The suspicion can be based on all of the circumstances.  The officer must have more than just a hunch but does not need proof that a crime has occurred to question someone.  If the police officer had a reasonable suspicion, the officer can briefly detain you and your friends to ask questions

    Even without a reasonable suspicion, the officer can ask questions (without detaining you).  There is nothing improper about a police officer simpy talking to someone.  You can ask the officer if you are being detained or whether you are free to leave. 


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