Reasonable Request for Information During a Traffic Stop in New York

In People v. Tejada (270 AD2d 655, 704 NYS2d 365 [3d Dept 2000]), defendant conceded that the car in which he was a passenger was validly stopped by police for a traffic infraction. When the driver could not produce a license or registration, the trooper asked the driver to step out of the vehicle, and then asked defendant his name, date of birth, where he was coming from and his destination. He asked who owned the vehicle and asked for the names of the passengers. The trooper also noted some damage to the vehicle. Defendant said the car was involved in an accident somewhere on the highway but he did not know the location. Someone told the trooper that one of the passengers was named Larsen, but that person identified himself as Maseppa. None of the vehicle occupants produced identification, so the trooper detained them all while he ran a records check by radio. The records check revealed an outstanding warrant on Maseppa and on a "Pedro Tejada." Later follow-up disclosed that the arrest warrant concerned a different individual with the same first and last names but a different middle initial. The Court found that the officer's questions never went beyond a De Bour level one inquiry, a reasonable request for information. It was not invasive and was not focused on criminality, and was permissible on these facts.