Detention of vehicle passengers during an inventory search before impounding the vehicle was lawful.
Appellant claimed that the trial court erred when it denied his 1538.5 motion to suppress evidence discovered in a traffic stop of a car in which he was the passenger. He contended that the officers stopped the car because of his ethnicity and that even if the stop was lawful, the detention was unnecessarily prolonged. The Court rejected the argument. The claim of ethnic bias was not raised below and was therefore forfeited. Further, the claim lacks merit. There was probable cause to stop the car based upon the traffic violations. Further, an officer making a traffic stop may order the driver and passengers to exit a vehicle, so the initial detention was lawful. The detention may continue as long as is reasonably necessary for the officer to complete the activity contemplated when the passengers were ordered out of the car. Here, the officers needed the passengers out of the car to do an inventory search of the car before impounding it, and a second officer kept an eye on the passengers in order to insure the first officer’s safety during the search. Under these circumstances, the detention was not unduly prolonged, and there was no Fourth Amendment violation.