Skip to content
Name: United States v. Willis
Case #: 04-10079
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/19/2005

Where officers have probable cause to believe a traffic violation has occurred, they may conduct a traffic stop even if doing so also serves another purpose. A police officer observed the defendant making an illegal u-turn, and also saw him accelerating and executing a turn at an excessive speed. The officer followed the car without stopping it in order to see if the driver violated other traffic laws. A check on the license plate indicated that there was a missing person’s report associated with the car. When the driver of the car pulled over and parked, officers blocked the car with their vehicles and turned on their overhead lights. The defendant admitted having a gun on his person and, after his motion to suppress was denied, pled guilty to being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm. The Ninth Circuit panel upheld the denial of the motion to suppress, because there was ample evidence to show that the defendant had violated traffic laws, and thus the officers had probable cause to make a traffic stop. The officers acted reasonably and there was no Fourth Amendment violation.