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Name: Arizona v. Johnson
Case #: 07-1122
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/26/2009
Subsequent History: 129 S.Ct. 781, 172 L.Ed.2d 694

Officers who conduct routine traffic stops may conduct a patdown of a passenger for weapons without violating the Fourth Amendment, if they reasonably suspect the person frisked is armed and dangerous. Three officers stopped an automobile after a license plate check revealed that the vehicle’s registration had been suspended for an insurance-related violation. Upon request of one of the officers, the driver exited the vehicle. Another officer spoke to appellant, the back seat passenger, and then asked him to step out of the vehicle to further question him about information he provided. When appellant exited, the officer, suspecting he might have a weapon on him, patted him down for officer safety and discovered a gun located near his waist. Observing that society has a legitimate interest in officer safety, and relying on the rational of Terry v. Ohio (1968) 392 U.S. 1, the Supreme Court found that the minimal intrusion of the pat down search of a person already lawfully detained during a traffic stop (Brendlin v. California (2007) 551 U.S. 249) was justified by this interest in officer safety and that there was no Fourth Amendment violation.