Citation. Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 116 S. Ct. 1769, 135 L. Ed. 2d 89, 1996 U.S. LEXIS 3720, 64 U.S.L.W. 4409, 96 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4123, 96 Daily Journal DAR 6635, 9 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 652 (U.S. June 10, 1996)
Brief Fact Summary. A stopped vehicle attracted the attention of a vice officer. A subsequent chase and search revealed drugs.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In a conventional civil traffic stop, the Fourth Amendment is met by the traditional common-law rule that probable cause justifies a search and seizure.
Held. No. The petitioners’ argument was that a new standard should be imposed for such circumstances: “whether a police officer, acting reasonably, would have made the stop for the reason give.” The court cited extensive precedent that showed, regardless of the “pretext” of the officer’s action, an arrest “would not be rendered invalid” and that a “lawful postarrest search of the person would not be rendered invalid by the fact that it was not motivated by the officer-safety concern that justifies such searches.”
Discussion. “For the run-of-the-mine case . . . there is no realistic alternative to the traditional common-law rule that probable cause justifies a search and seizure.”