Let's say you're riding in a car with someone who doesn't exactly heed the letter of the law. Or, hypothetically of course, imagine that you, the passenger, are the law-bender. Now, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, if the police stop your driver buddy for dodgy reasons, passengers are allowed the same rights to contest the validity of the stop as the driver (and the seizure of any evidence that might have been, ahem, found during the stop).

The case was brought by a man in California who was a passenger in a car that police stopped on suspicion of an expired registration. After the police booked him for parole and drug violations, he challenged the right for the police to make the stop in the first place. It turns out the police didn't have any right to stop the car because they already knew from a previous encounter that day that the car's registration was valid. The Supreme Court agreed that passengers in a car are just as "seized" during a police stop as the driver, and so should have as much right as the driver to call police actions into question. So, ignoring the fact that the man who instigated this actually was violating parole and carrying drugs -- his bad example has made life better for passengers everywhere. Kudos to the guys in the long black robes.

[Source: New York Times via Auto Concourse]



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