Well, I Think It Is Reasonable…

…to mistake a 55 mph zone for a 65 mph zone.

Don’t all of you?

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a North Carolina car search, in an 8-1 decision that provides more wiggle room for law enforcement officers who make a “reasonable” mistake about the law.

With conservative and liberal justices all but united, the court ruled that the 2009 search was permissible even though the Surry County Sheriff’s Office sergeant who conducted it erred in thinking the car violated state law governing warning brake lights.

“To be reasonable is not to be perfect, and so the Fourth Amendment allows for some mistakes on the part of government officials, giving them fair leeway for enforcing the law in the community’s protection,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote.

“Reasonable men make mistakes of law, too, and such mistakes are no less compatible with the concept of reasonable suspicion,” Roberts wrote.

So, I wonder if Roberts would allow me (or anyone) to challenge a 60-in-a-55 ticket based on perfection not being required?

The case grew out of a police stop on the morning of April 29, 2009, when Sgt. Matt Darisse of Surry County pulled over a Ford Escort on Interstate 77 near Dobson, N.C., about 90 miles north of Charlotte. Darisse had begun following the car because he thought the driver looked “stiff and nervous.”

Darisse thought he had reason to pull the car over and subsequently search it when he noticed that only one of its brake lights went on while the car slowed. At the time, Darisse said he thought North Carolina law required that cars have two working brake lights; the North Carolina Court of Appeals later ruled Darisse was wrong.

The [Supreme] court’s majority, though, reasoned that law enforcement officers sometimes must act quickly, even in cases where the law’s technical specifications may be hard to come by.

“A law prohibiting ‘vehicles’ in the park either covers Segways or not,” Roberts noted as an example, “but an officer will nevertheless have to make a quick decision on the law the first time one whizzes by.”

Any bets as to how Roberts will view the Cleveland cop’s “quick decision” to kill the 12-year-old who “whizze[d] by” with the toy gun?

Just wonderin’….

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