Search and Seizure

NY Judge: Careful Driving No Cause for Traffic Stop

Obeying the law isn't supposed to be suspicious

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Driving with hands on the wheel, arms extended, without passing other vehicles is not a crime in New York, a county judge ruled last week. St. Lawrence County Surrogate's Court Judge Kathleen Martin Rogers found the US Border Patrol had been wrong to stop Corene M. Deer and Rachel C. Morgan, who were driving carefully at around 8pm on January 18, 2012 in the town of Gouverneur.

Agent Brandon Carrier spotted Deer and Morgan's white SUV and became suspicious when he saw the driver had more than one hand on the wheel and did not appear to be relaxed. Agent Carrier began following closely enough to read the license plate and radio in to find the SUV was not stolen.

With the marked patrol car following for a total of six miles, the SUV maintained a speed of 50 to 60 MPH. The SUV did not take the opportunity to pass slower vehicles ahead, and when the road expanded into two lanes, the SUV pulled to the right to allow the patrol car to pass. Agent Carrier decided to conduct a traffic stop.