“Can a San Diego cop run my plates and stop me to see if I am licensed?”

San Diego California drivers who have had their license suspended as a result of a DUI often ask attorneys whether a police officer has the right to follow you, check your license plate, and lawfully stop you to see if you are licensed?

While a San Diego police officer can follow you and run your plates, he/she cannot lawfully stop your vehicle to see if you have a valid driver’s license in California, DUI criminal defense lawyers note.

Here’s the law:

“A peace officer shall not stop a vehicle for the sole reason of determining whether the driver is properly licensed.” [Vehicle Code section 14607.6(b)]

“[N]otwithstanding Section 40300 [application of Vehicle Code for peace officer arresting without warrant for offenses committed in their presence] or any other provision of law, a peace officer may not detain or arrest a person solely on the belief that the person is an unlicensed driver, unless the officer has reasonable cause to believe the person driving is under the age of 16 years.” [California Vehicle Code section 12801.5(e)]

So if you had your license suspended as a result of a San Diego DUI, a traffic officer may not lawfully stop and subsequently cite or legally arrest you for driving on a suspended license [California Vehicle Code section 14601 et. seq.] based on the police running the visible license plate number of students leaving DUI class, probationers attending MADD session, or drivers just traveling on the road.

In other words, police must have a valid lawful reason to stop even suspended California drivers.