19 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 247 (1997)
United States v. Whren: The U.S. Supreme Court Determines the Constitutional Reasonableness of Pretextual Traffic Stops and Tips the Scales in Favor of Law Enforcement; Walters, Jennifer R.

handle is hein.journals/tjeflr19 and id is 255 raw text is: UNITED STATES V. WHREN: THE U.S. SUPREME
COURT DETERMINES THE CONSTITUTIONAL
REASONABLENESS OF PRETEXTUAL TRAFFIC
STOPS AND TIPS THE SCALES IN FAVOR OF
LAW ENFORCEMENT.
Jennifer R. Walters*
INTRODUCTION
While driving home late one night, you take a wrong turn and
find yourself in an unfamiliar neighborhood. You look around un-
easily and discover your new Mercedes is drawing unsolicited atten-
tion. Nervous, you subconsciously lock your doors. While reaching
for a map in the glove compartment, your car briefly crosses the
middle line. You think nothing of it and forge ahead. Unbeknownst
to you, a plain-clothes narcotics officer m an unmarked car has been
following you from a distance for quite some time. The officer had a
hunch that your Mercedes may be the one suspected of being in-
volved in narcotics sales in this neighborhood, and he was waiting for
an opportunity to investigate. When he observed your car cross the
middle line, he pulled in behind you. The sudden glare of headlights
in your rear-view mirror startles you, and you find the tail-gating un-
nerving. You slow down, thinking this person wants to pass, but in-
stead the car remains right behind you. Just as you resign yourself to
becoming the victim of a car-jacking, a red light appears on the roof
of the unmarked police car, and you instinctively pull over. The offi-
cer approaches you and shines a flashlight in your car. He informs
you he stopped you for swerving. He asks to see your license and
registration, though seems more interested in inspecting your car. He
sees no sign of drugs, but decides to run a check on your license.
This reveals an outstanding warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket and he
arrests you. He then searches the car and finds nothing to support his
* B.A. Califorma State Umversity, Cluco; J.D. Thomas Jefferson School of Law,
San Diego. The author thanks Professor Ilene Durst and Bryon Mulligan for their editorial
review and advice. The author wishes to acknowledge her family and friends for their
continuing encouragement, love and support.

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