there was no other reason stated
As all motorists are required to have automobile insurance, a police officer absolutely can pull someone over for a lapse in coverage. If the insurance is the only issue, all your friend needs to do is have their insurance reinstated. If they do that, they can likely have the ticket dismissed.
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You must mean that it had lapsed. Yes, if it had lapsed, then an officer can run the tags and pull you over.
Yes, its is not uncommon for officers to run tags to see if they are valid and that there is insurance. If they find a lapse then they will pull the car over. Technically the owner of the vehicle is supposed to be charged, so if your friend was not the owner of the car then they may have a defense.
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