They was just riding and a cop let a speeder go and jump behind you and the owner of the tag has a suspended license so he just decides to pull them but there are no violations involved speeding or swerving?
Were you the driver? Did you receive any charges? Did the passenger whose license was already suspended? My guess is your passenger and their car are known to cops and they look for that car because they assume the owner is driving it again even though their license has been suspended.
Since a tag is in public view the cops can check them at any time and if they see that the owner of the the tag is suspended then they have the authority to stop the car and check the driver's license.
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The legal issue comes up more-and-more lately. That's because the technologies used by police officers for criminal charges in NC often include automated "tag reading" cameras.
If you've driven around Durham, NC you'll see some police cars that almost look like Google Local mapping trucks. They have cameras all over them.
That's part of an automated system that looks for stolen vehicles. . .and in some instances, people of interest. It's called an ALPR Automated License Plate Recognition
See Also: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/239605.pdf
Frankly, this is an area of law in NC that is somewhat opaque. It's not entirely clear. There are times when an officer would be deemed to have reasonable suspicion to pull someone if the tag came back "lost or stolen." At the same time, there also can be legal arguments from pulling people over without more.
The implementation of automatic license plate readers poses serious privacy and other civil liberties threats. More and more cameras, longer retention periods, and widespread sharing allow law enforcement agents to assemble the individual puzzle pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives. The knowledge that one is subject to constant monitoring can chill the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association. Databases of license plate reader information create opportunities for institutional abuse, such as using them to identify protest attendees merely because these individuals have exercised their First Amendment-protected right to free speech. If not properly secured, license plate reader databases open the door to abusive tracking, enabling anyone with access to pry into the lives of his boss, his ex-wife, or his romantic, political, or workplace rivals.
Law enforcement generally disagrees, noting the absence of actual examples of abuse, in contrast to the plentiful real examples of plate readers solving crimes like vehicle theft (N&O story) and murder (Jalopnik story). One of the key issues in this area is how long the license plate data should be retained. Agencies vary in this regard, with retention periods ranging from 48 hours to indefinitely.
Fourth Amendment issues. Whether the use of plate readers is a privacy problem or not, at least under conventional Fourth Amendment doctrine, using a plate reader isn’t a “search” because the reader is just looking at something in public view. See United States v. Wilcox, 2011 WL 679416 (11th Cir. Feb. 28, 2011) (unpublished) (defendant argued that “the use of the tag reader technology amounted to unconstitutional surveillance that violated his reasonable expectation of privacy,” but the court disagreed, finding no expectation of privacy in the defendant’s license plate as it was plainly visible on the public roads). Cf. State v. Chambers, 2010 WL 1287068 (N.C. Ct. App. April 6, 2010) (unpublished) (“Defendant’s license tag was displayed, as required by North Carolina law, on the back of his vehicle for all of society to view. Therefore, defendant did not have a subjective or objective reasonable expectation of privacy in his license tag. As such, the officer’s actions did not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment.”).
However, when data gathered from multiple plate readers is combined, and is retained over time, one could argue that the resulting database approaches continuous surveillance, akin to constant tracking of every vehicle. This may eventually implicate the so-called mosaic theory of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones, __ U.S. __, 132 S.Ct. 945 (2012), the GPS tracking
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