In order to initiate a traffic stop police must have at minimum reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is or has been committed. Reasonable suspicion is not a high threshold to meet, however there are situations in which this threshold is not met. A common dispute that has arisen regarding if this threshold has been met is when an officer runs a vehicle’s tag to obtain information about either the vehicle or who it is registered to. If an officer discovers that the tag does not match the vehicle, the person who the vehicle is registered to has a warrant outstanding, or the owner is not authorized to drive, the officer may initiate a traffic stop. The question that often arises from those who have been stopped because of this practice is can the police legally do that.


Across the nation and in North Carolina courts have upheld that this practice does not violate the Fourth Amendment and thus police may run tags in order to get reasonable suspicion to execute a traffic stop. In State v. Chambers, 2010 WL 1287068 (N.C. Ct. App. April 6, 2010) (unpublished), a North Carolina appellate decision, the court found that because the license plate is displayed on the back of the vehicle for anyone to view the driver does not have any expectation of privacy in the tag. Thus a police officer running the tag does not constitute a search. If running a tag is not considered a search then police may do so and can initiate a traffic stop based on the information received from running the tag.

If you should find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a DWI you need to contact an attorney who has the experience and knowledge necessary to handle your case with the care it deserves. We defend DWIs and DUIs in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Pineville, Cornelius, Huntersville, Lake Norman, Pineville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and UNCC. For a private, confidential consultation with one of our experienced DWI lawyers, please call 704-499-9000 or toll-free 877-374-5999 even on weekends or holidays.