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West Valley City v. Temblador-Topete

West Valley City v. Temblador-Topete, 2020 UT App 64 (Pohlman, J.)

Criminal

Officers relied on information from the Utah Criminal Justice Information System (UCJIS) that the car the defendant was driving was not insured. A representative from Insure-Rite, the company providing the information, testified at trial that it told the officer there was “no insurance found” in response to the inquiry. In fact, the car was insured and Insure-Rite, which only updates its statuses every two weeks, was not yet informed. The officers stopped defendant’s vehicle based upon the response “no insurance found.” The officer then discovered that the defendant had multiple arrest warrants and searched him incident to arrest. During the search, the officer discovered methamphetamine on defendant’s person. The defendant moved to suppress the drugs, arguing that the officer who pulled him over had no reasonable articulable suspicion to affect the stop because “no insurance found” did not suggest one way or the other whether the vehicle was insured. The district court denied his motion. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction, holding:

  • As long as an officer suspects a driver is violating any number of traffic ordinances or regulations, the officer may legally stop the vehicle. An officer need not completely rule out innocent conduct before effectuating a stop. The information provided by UCJIS and Insure-Rite was objective and particularized information that insurance was “not found.” Insure-Rite’s inability to confirm that the car was insured created a reasonable suspicion it was not insured. The officer was justified in stopping the vehicle to confirm or dispel that information.
  • Insure-Rite’s database is not per se unreliable, because two-week old information is not stale enough to render it per se unreliable. 

Read the full court opinion

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