Supreme Court Won’t Limit Vehicle Stops Based on Owner’s License Status

April 6, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court held today, 8-1, that police can stop a vehicle if a database says that the registered owner has a suspended license. Justice Sotomayor dissented. EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case, Kansas v. Glover, arguing that the Court should not allow the police to stop a vehicle simply because the registered owner's license is expired. EPIC described the growing use of Automated License Plate Readers, and warned the Court that permitting police stops based on the registered owner's status would "dramatically alter police practices" and "unfairly burden disadvantaged communities." EPIC provided empirical data for the Supreme Court which indicate that ALPRs are more widely used in disadvantaged communities and also that car sharing is more prevalent in these communities. Justice Kagan's concurrence noted that car sharing and database inaccuracies, issues that EPIC raised in its brief, could lead to unreasonable searches. EPIC routinely files amicus briefs in cases before federal and state courts concerning emerging privacy issues. In Herring v. United States (2012), EPIC explained to the Supreme Court that government databases are "filled with errors, according to the federal government's own reports."

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