Pulled Over For Having Whiskey Plates?

We have previously discussed what “whiskey plates” are and when they’re required, but another common question we get is whether a person can be pulled over based solely on the fact that the vehicle has whiskey plates. Under the current state of the law in Minnesota the answer is no, a person cannot be pulled over solely based on the fact that the vehicle bears whiskey plates. But that has not always been the state of the law.

There have been times in the past in Minnesota that law enforcement was allowed to pull over a vehicle based on nothing more than the fact that they saw the vehicle had whiskey plates. However, an appellate court decision in 1995 held that it was a violation of a person’s constitutional rights for law enforcement to pull them over based on nothing more than the presence of whiskey plates. The court held that the constitution requires reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity in order to stop a vehicle, and that the presence of whiskey plates, absent any other conduct, was not sufficient to satisfy the constitutional requirements for a stop of a vehicle.

After that court decision, the Minnesota Legislature passed a statute in an attempt to give officers the power to stop vehicles based on the presence of whiskey plates alone. However, this practice was struck down by the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2003.

So under the current precedents, a vehicle cannot be pulled over solely based on the fact that it bears whiskey plates. But any vehicle bearing whiskey plates is certainly going to draw the attention of law enforcement and officers are likely to more highly scrutinize the driving conduct of any vehicle bearing such plates to see if they can find some other reason to pull the vehicle over.

Attorneys John J. Leunig and Justin J. Duffy have vast experience handling DWI cases, including cases that resulted in acquittals at trial, dismissals prior to trial, and have successfully overturned DWI convictions on appeal. If you or a loved one are facing charges for a criminal offense, call the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of John Leunig, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 952-540-6800 for a free consultation.

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