People of Northwest Public Radio
License Plate Checks
Thu January 10, 2013
Oregon Supreme Court Allows Continued Use Of Random License Plate Checks
Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 4:39 pm
SALEM, Ore. – Police officers in Oregon can continue to use random license plate checks as a law enforcement tool. That's the upshot of a decision issued Thursday by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Have you ever been stopped at a red light and noticed a police car in your rearview mirror? There's a good chance that officer is running your license plate number through his or her computer. In seconds a state database can show if everything's kosher about your car. If not, you'll probably get pulled over.
That's what happened to two Oregon men who were separately arrested for driving with a suspended license after officers ran their plates. Their attorney, Kenneth Kreuscher, argued that such random checks are unconstitutional searches.
"There's a problem that we see in society when government, police and state actors are more and more intruding in people's private lives without justification."
But the Oregon Supreme Court was evenly divided on the question. The result is that a lower court's ruling stands that random license plate checks are legal.