WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether police have probable cause to make a traffic stop if it turns out the officer was mistaken in thinking the driver violated the law.
The justices on Monday said they will hear an appeal from a North Carolina man who claims his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was pulled over for having a burned-out brake light. The police officer ultimately found cocaine in the car and the driver and his passenger were convicted of drug trafficking.
A state appeals court ruled the stop was impermissible because state law only required a car to have one functioning brake light. But a divided North Carolina Supreme Court reversed, finding the stop was permitted if the officer's mistake about the law was reasonable.