License Plate Lamp and 4th Amendment.


The following was from a motion to suppress based on a traffic stop for a tail lamp.  Drafted by Paul J. Notarianni.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that a traffic stop involving a motorist is a detention which implicates the Fourth Amendment.” (Wilkes v. State, 364 Md. 554 (2001) citing United States v. Sharpe, 470 U.S. 675, 682, (1985); Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 439, (1984)).  A traffic stop violates the federal Constitution if the police do not have probable cause to believe that the driver has committed a traffic violation. (Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 810, (1996)). Maryland Transportation Article Section 22-204 (f) reads in pertinent part “Either a tail lamp or a separate lamp shall be constructed and placed to illuminate, with a white light, the rear registration plate and render it clearly legible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear.”

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