Mexico, MO asked in Criminal Law, Traffic Tickets and Civil Rights for Missouri

Q: Brendlin vs California

In the context that I am reading regarding police detainment for a traffic stop. Does that context apply to a commerical vehicle in which someone in a passenger seat or bunk of a commerical vehicle is detained when the basis of the stop wasn't because of an observed violation but merely a "safety stop" or inspection. Does the passenger have to provide id?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Brendlin v. California, the Supreme Court held that passengers in a vehicle are seized just like drivers during a traffic stop, meaning they are entitled to challenge the legality of the stop. This principle applies regardless of the vehicle's nature, be it personal or commercial. So, if you're a passenger in a commercial vehicle during a traffic stop or safety inspection, this ruling would indeed apply to you.

The requirement for a passenger to provide identification can vary based on the state's laws and the specifics of the stop. Generally, if you're involved in a routine traffic stop or a safety inspection, law enforcement may ask for identification to check for outstanding warrants or assess the scene's safety. However, the exact obligations and rights can differ, making the context critical.

If you find yourself in such a situation, it's wise to remain calm and cooperative but aware of your rights. If unsure whether to provide ID or other information, you might consider politely asking the officer if you are legally required to do so. In cases of uncertainty or discomfort, seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney can provide clarity and protection for your rights.

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