Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Police Right To Make Traffic Stops

Statewide Iowa — A ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court in an eastern Iowa case will have ramifications throughout Iowa. 

Scottize Brown was pulled over in Waterloo for a traffic violation and was convicted of second offense OWI after the officer found alcohol in the SUV she was driving. Brown asked to have the case thrown out, saying the officer used the traffic violation as a pretext to stop her, and the stop was racially motivated. Civil rights groups backed Brown, saying people of color are involved in a disproportionate number of the stops.

The Supreme Court ruled the subjective motivations of an officer for making a traffic stop are irrelevant as long as the officer has objectively reasonable cause to believe the motorist violated a traffic law. The court acknowledged that police discretion can lead to racial profiling, but said they werenot persuaded that throwing out this case would have any significant impact on eliminating racial profiling.



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