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Attorney Christopher T. Adams

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Questions about the use of license plate readers

If you have recently been stopped for a traffic violation, you may have noticed a camera mounted on the police car. Police officers utilize cameras to scan license plates of unsuspecting drivers. The license plates are run through the police data base and can reveal if outstanding warrants or other offenses by the owner of the vehicle. Some are crying foul on this new law enforcement tool calling it a violation of personal rights.

Sonia Rodriguez was arrested after her license plate was scanned during a traffic stop. The officer informed Rodriguez that a tag reader had connected her car with an outstanding warrant. She told the officer that the warrant was on her son that was currently in jail. The officer continued to question Rodriguez and her passenger Ereka Williams. Eventually the two were asked to get out of the car and consented to a search. The search revealed five ounces of marijuana and the two were placed under arrest.

Rodriguez brought suit because she believed that she was detained by police for too long. Since she was not the subject of the tag reader’s alert, she felt that questioning should have ceased when this was discovered. A majority of the Supreme Court ruled that her detainment was not too long and that the officer was justified in his line of questioning. The decision settled this case but did not settle the use of license plate readers by law enforcement.

Traffic violations can carry serious consequences. Whether questioning a license plate reader or a speeding ticket, it is important to have experienced legal counsel. An attorney that specializes in criminal defense can address the charges. They can also address any other life problems that may result from the traffic violation.

Source:, “License plate scans open debate concerning personal rights,” Erica Techo, August 3, 2014


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