Lack of driver’s license isn’t reason for police to search vehicle at a California traffic stop

A driver’s failure to produce a valid license when stopped by police does not authorize them to search the car without a warrant, a divided California Supreme Court ruled Monday, overturning its decision in a similar case in 2002.

“The price of giving officers the discretion to search at will among a person’s private effects whenever that person has committed a traffic infraction is a high one,” Justice Leondra Kruger said in the 4-3 ruling. “It is not a price we should lightly require California drivers to pay.”