DIXON, Chief Justice.
The question here is whether the police can stop an automobile, being properly driven on a public highway, solely because the automobile bears a Louisiana license plate and an out-of-state inspection sticker. As a result of such a stop, the defendant, Glyn Wilson, was charged with violating R.S. 14:95.1, which makes it a crime for a convicted felon to possess a firearm. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the stop. After an evidentiary hearing the district court denied the defendant's motion. We reverse and find that the stop of the automobile, based on neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion, was an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment and Article 1, § 5 of the 1974 Louisiana Constitution.
On July 21, 1979 a state trooper observed the defendant traveling on U. S. 61 with a Louisiana license plate and an out-of-state inspection sticker on his automobile. For this reason, the trooper stopped the defendant and followed his normal practice of requesting the defendant's driver's license and vehicle registration papers. The trooper noticed that the defendant's inspection sticker was a valid Mississippi inspection sticker, but he advised the defendant to go to his glove compartment and get his vehicle registration papers. When the defendant opened his glove compartment, the trooper saw a revolver in the glove compartment. The trooper checked the gun by radio and learned that the gun was not stolen and the defendant was not wanted. The trooper asked the defendant if the gun belonged to him; the defendant replied that it did. The gun was returned to the defendant, who was told that he could leave. When it was later determined that the defendant was a convicted felon, he was charged with illegal possession of the gun.
The sole issue before this court is whether or not the investigatory stop was constitutionally valid. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, § 5 of the 1974 Louisiana Constitution prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures. The stop of an automobile and the detention of its occupants have been viewed as a "seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 96 S.Ct. 3074, 49 L.Ed.2d 1116 (1976); U. S. v. Brigoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 95 S.Ct. 2574, 45 L.Ed.2d 607 (1975).
In Delaware v. Prouse, supra, the United States Supreme Court held that it is an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment to stop an automobile and detain the driver for the purpose of checking his driver's license and vehicle registration papers, where there is neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion to believe that a motorist is unlicensed or that an automobile is not registered, or that either the car or its occupants is subject to seizure for violation of the law. The court concluded that there must be at least an articulable and reasonable suspicion that the car is being driven contrary to the laws governing the operation of motor vehicles.
In this case the state trooper stopped the defendant only because he had a Louisiana license and an out-of-state inspection sticker on his automobile. It is not a crime
The trooper had no reason to believe that the defendant's Mississippi inspection sticker had expired; he only knew that the inspection sticker on defendant's automobile was from out-of-state. The fact that the defendant's automobile bore an out-of-state inspection sticker did not provide the trooper with an articulable and reasonable suspicion that the defendant's car was being driven contrary to the laws of this state.
Neither was there any other reason to stop the defendant. There was no evidence which led the trooper to believe that the defendant's driver's license had expired or that his registration papers were improper.
"An individual operating or travelling in an automobile does not lose all reasonable expectation of privacy simply because the automobile and its use are subject to government regulation." Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 649, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 1393, 59 L.Ed.2d 660, 673. To allow law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle solely because the vehicle displays a Louisiana license plate and an out-of-state inspection sticker would invite intrusions upon constitutionally guaranteed rights based on nothing more substantial than inarticulate hunches. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968).
We conclude that the stop of the defendant's car violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, § 5 of the 1974 Louisiana Constitution.
The district court erred in overruling the defendant's motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the stop. Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is reversed, and the motion to suppress is granted. The case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with the views expressed herein.
LEMMON, J., dissents and assigns reasons.
LEMMON, Justice, dissenting.
The stop in this case is clearly distinguishable from that in Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979). The Prouse case involved a purely random stop of a vehicle chosen by the officer for a license and registration check on a purely arbitrary basis. Since the officer
In the present case the officer did not arbitrarily select defendant's vehicle to stop for a registration check. Since a Mississippi inspection sticker is permitted on cars licensed in Louisiana only under limited circumstances, the officer had a reasonable suspicion that the car had an illegal inspection sticker. Therefore, this was not a situation, as in the Prouse case, where it was highly unlikely that the random stop would reveal a violation of safety laws; rather, there was at least a reasonable probability in this case that the car did not have a proper inspection sticker. And since defendant was driving with an inspection sticker valid only because of an exception to Louisiana's vehicle inspection law, the invasion of his privacy by a stop to check the sticker was far more minimal and far less frightening or annoying than the stop in the Prouse case of a driver and vehicle which gave no visible reason to excite the officer's inquiry into a registration and license check.
The stop in this case was justified by reasonable suspicion. Once the vehicle was stopped, the officer could reasonably inquire further about registration and license without an undue intrusion, and inquiry about registration yielded the evidence of the crime in this case. Since only unreasonable seizures are constitutionally impermissible and since the stop or seizure in this case was not unreasonable, I would affirm the denial of the motion to suppress.