RCSO Talks Supreme Court Traffic Stop Ruling

Richmond County Sheriff's Office logo graphic
Richmond County Sheriff's Office logo graphic

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that prolonging traffic stops without reasonable suspicion violates the constitution’s protection against unreasonable seizures.

In Richmond County, deputies say the ruling will not change their habits.

“The policies that we have followed, at least for the last several years, since the sheriff took over, is that you’ve always needed reasonable suspicion if you’re going to extend the stop beyond the traffic stop,” Lt. Lewis Blanchard said.

Blanchard says for the most part, a traffic stop should last no longer than 15 minutes, any longer than that would be detaining a person without reasonable suspicion.

Which means that if you get pulled over for speeding and the officer gives you a ticket, he can’t force you to wait any longer for a K-9 to show up or for an investigator to show up.

“The best thing to do is that as soon as you expect something, even if you can’t get reasonable suspicion, go ahead and call for the K-9 immediately. The lucky thing for us is, we keep K-9’s deployed most of the time during the day and night,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard says that having reasonable suspicion would be the only reason to hold a person any longer.

“Nervousness. The person is basically displaying. Once I’ve told you that all I’ve stopped you for is a seat belt violation, most people, all the nervousness goes away,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard says that most deputies don’t want to extend a traffic stop unless they have reasonable suspicion because without it, they’re just wasting their time.

“We’ve always said, why are you going to waste your time searching a vehicle and have nothing, because you could pull over another vehicle where you might have something,” he said.

Blanchard says that the sheriff’s office has already talked to deputies about the Supreme Court ruling.

“We don’t want somebody who has that hunch, that then says, my pen’s not working,” Blanchard said.

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