Iowa Supreme Court Says Law Enforcement Can't Prolong Stops Without Reasonable Suspicion

Feb 10, 2017

The Iowa Supreme Court says a valid traffic stop can’t be prolonged without reasonable suspicion, once the original cause for that stop is resolved. As a result a man's aggravated misdemeanor conviction has been overturned. 

On August 18, 2014, Officer James Morris of Eldridge Police Department pulled over a vehicle that was registered to a woman with a suspended driver’s license. It turned out the driver, a man named Jayel Coleman, was the brother of the car’s owner. 

Because Mr. Coleman clearly wasn’t his sister, he argues that Officer Morris should have allowed him to go on his way. Instead, Morris ran a license check, and found Coleman was barred from driving. He was charged with an aggravated misdemeanor.

Coleman appealed, saying his Iowa Constitutional rights were violated because Morris continued the traffic stop without cause.

In a four-three vote, the Iowa Supreme Court agreed. Coleman’s conviction has been reversed.