Commonsense: The Owner Of A Vehicle Is The Driver Of The Vehicle

December 12, 2022
Commonsense: The Owner Of A Vehicle Is The Driver Of The Vehicle

Under Kansas v. Glover, 140 S. Ct. 1183 (2020), the United States Supreme Court determined that law enforcement officers are permitted to conduct an investigative stop solely based on the commonsense notion that the driver of a vehicle will be the owner of the vehicle. In this case, a Kansas deputy ran the vehicle’s license plate and learned that the owner of the vehicle had a revoked license. The deputy then conducted an investigative stop based on this information.

It was argued that in some cases vehicle owners are not who are operating the vehicle itself. For example, many teenagers will drive their parents’ vehicles without having any ownership of the vehicle. If the registered owner of the vehicle had a suspended license, law enforcement will now be permitted to stop the vehicle based on the status of the vehicle owner’s license.

The Supreme Court specifically held that reasonable suspicion exists to stop a vehicle where the owner’s license is revoked, based on the commonsense inference that the driver is the owner. The only caveat to this holding is where the officer possesses information negating the inference that the owner is the driver of the vehicle. The Supreme Court focuses on the information available to the officer at the time of the stop, upon learning that the vehicle is registered to a driver without a valid license, as opposed to information obtained after the stop. If the officer possesses a good faith belief that the driver of the vehicle is the owner of the vehicle and that driver’s license is showing as revoked, then the investigative stop should be upheld under Glover.


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