WHEN CAN POLICE EXTEND TRAFFIC STOPS?
Frequently, drivers are pulled over for a traffic offense and later find themselves in jail for something else entirely. For example, a speeding stop can turn into an arrest for drug possession. It is important to note the legal principles behind traffic stops and what the police can and cannot do in regard to extending them.
Officers can initiate a traffic stop when they have reasonable articulable suspicion that you have committed an offense, however minor it may be (for example, an expired registration, speeding, or a broken taillight). At this point, they may temporarily detain you long enough to effectuate the purpose of the stop. During this time, they may also ask you for your license, registration, and insurance. Once the purpose of the stop has been completed (for example, the issuing of a speeding citation), the officer must let you go and cannot extend the stop any longer. The only reason that he can extend the stop is if he develops a new reasonable articulable suspicion in addition to the original one. Any evidence obtained as a result of an unlawfully prolonged traffic stop is ripe for a motion to suppress.