Last week, the court of appeals ruled that during a traffic stop, an officer may require a driver to produce his or her license and may run computer checks on it — even when the reasonable suspicion that initially supported the traffic stop has been dispelled before the officer asks for the license. This issue comes up regularly and has divided courts in other jurisdictions, so I thought it worth discussing here.
State v. Johnson, __ N.C. __ (August 18, 2017) opens like a novel:
Defendant was stopped at a red light on a snowy evening. When the light turned green, defendant’s truck abruptly accelerated, turned sharply left, and fishtailed, all in front of a police officer in his patrol car. The officer pulled defendant over for driving at an unsafe speed given the road conditions.
On second thought, maybe this reads more like a bar exam question (or a Dan Fogelberg song).
What say you, barristers? Was the stop lawful?