Skip to content
Name: United States v. Diaz-Castaneda
Case #: 06-30047
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/18/2007

When a police officer sees a license plate in plain view, and then uses that plate to conduct a check that reveals non-private information about a person’s car ownership, driver status, and criminal record, the officer does not conduct a Fourth Amendment search. Diaz-Castaneda was a passenger in a truck driven by S. Diaz on the highway. The deputy sheriff, in a vehicle behind the truck, ran a check on the license plate and determined that the license of the registered owner was suspended. Because the description of the registered owner was consistent with that of the driver, the officer stopped the vehicle and confirmed that Diaz was the driver and arrested him. He then obtained identification from Diaz-Castenada and establishing that he was the subject of an immigration detainer, arrested him as an illegal alien. Diaz-Castenada had standing to contest the traffic stop under Brendlin v. California (2007) 127 S.Ct. 2400 but a license plate check does not qualify as a search as there is no legitimate expectancy of privacy. The request for identification was valid as police may ask people who have been legitimately stopped for identification without conducting a Fourth Amendment search or seizure. (Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Ct. of Nev., Humboldt County (2004) 542 U.S. 177.)