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Name: People v. Greenwood
Case #: B220315
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 10/28/2010

An officer’s objective belief based on Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records that a vehicle registration has expired, with no registration in progress, despite the presence of a seemingly valid temporary registration on the vehicle, justifies the vehicle stop for Fourth Amendment purposes. At a suppression hearing, the officers testified that they ran a computer check of DMV records of a vehicle driven by appellant and learned that the registration had expired two years earlier. The officers stopped the vehicle and discovered a cigarette dipped in phencyclidine. The vehicle displayed a temporary vehicle registration, but DMV records did not indicate that a registration was in process. The court rejected appellant’s claim that the stop violated his Fourth Amendment right protecting against unreasonable search and seizure. A traffic stop is an investigatory detention for which the officer must be able to articulate specific facts justifying the suspicion that a crime is being committed. Here, DMV records provided no evidence that the temporary permit was part of an on-going registration process. Presented with ambiguous evidence of a possible inconsistency between a registration that had expired two years earlier and the temporary permit on display, the officer’s stop to investigate the status of the registration was justified.