January 21, 2008
North Dakota Supreme Court Grants Police Authority To Stop Any Vehicle With Out Of State Temporary Tag
North Dakota (The Weekly Vice) -- If you buy a new car with a legally valid temporary tag and then drive into North Dakota, the state police can stop you at will.
Even if the vehicle driven is entirely legal and the temporary tag is properly displayed, any officer can stop any vehicle simply for displaying an out-of-state tag. This was the finding made be the North Dakota Supreme Court which upheld it's previous ruling on Thursday.
The highest court in the state came to this decision by finding that the Grand Forks Police Department was legally authorized to stop motorist Clinton Mitchell which subsequently lead to his arrest for DUI.
The central purpose of the stop was because Mitchell's vehicle displayed a Montana temporary tag in the rear window which the officer could not identify as an authentic tag.
Mitchell's attorneys argued that simply not recognizing a tag doesn't authorize police to assume a law has been broken or that the tag is invalid. The North Dakota Supreme Court disagreed sharply with a 4 to 1 split ruling in favor of the Grand Fork's Police Department.
Since the GFPD or the State Highway Patrol does not require officers to memorize the temporary tags of every state, any vehicle that has a temporary tag from out of state becomes a moving target. So long as an officer claims he wasn't able to authenticate your tag, your vehicle is therefor considered 'suspicious'.
Excerpts from the Court's Opinion state:
"We hold that this 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper in the rear window of Mitchell's vehicle, which was without license plates, provided reasonable and articulable suspicion that Mitchell was not complying with motor vehicle registration laws," Stated Justice Mary Muehlen.
"The law does not establish that the appellant was entitled to operate his vehicle in North Dakota with a valid Montana temporary registration certificate," added Sandstrom.
Here is the original case and ruling from Nov. 28, 2006 which has now been upheld
State of North Dakota vs. Kenneth Wayne Oliver
The Weekly Vice Reaction:
To say this case sets a dangerous precedent is an understatement. Cases in the future will use this case as a catapult which may allow police to assume you are guilty, even if you are completely compliant with the law.
What if we apply this court's ruling to another case in the future where 'possible guilt' is grounds for a stop from the police?
Let's say a large breasted woman walks out of a local mini-mart, and an officer nearby cannot verify that her breasts aren't really just two butterball turkeys stuffed in her shirt? Will police be able to stop and search the woman because she appears to 'possibly' be breaking the law?
This is a silly illustration, but it is vetted on the same principal that the court has upheld. If an officer cannot be certain you aren't guilty, you may be stopped, questioned, taken into custody and searched. Prosecutors all over the state have a new weapon in their legal arsenal now!
Absolutely ridiculous! Many members of this life-term court are quite young which means a long long future of this kind of police state rational.
The Weekly Vice
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