Can the officer ask, ‘Do you know why I pulled you over?’ Ask the lawyer

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

I was surprised to see red lights behind me, and realized that I had to stop and pull over. The officer walked up to my window. Can he ask me why he pulled me over, or is he required to tell me why I was stopped?

L.S., Dana Point

Ron Sokol

By law, effective Jan. 1 of this year, law enforcement can no longer ask, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” That’s a no-no (sometimes referred to as a pretext stop). Instead, officers are now required to tell you why you were stopped. There is one exception, which is if the officer “reasonably believes that withholding the reason for the stop is necessary to protect life or property from imminent threat.”

Cruising is now legal?

B.G., Los Angeles

The short answer to your question is yes.

Cruising, so-called low riders in classic cars, are considered an integral part of California culture. Research indicates that after World War II, lowrider culture was developed by Mexican Americans in and around Southern California. Cars were modified to ride lower to the ground, with colorful and at times elaborate paint jobs. When the lowriders drove through town, “low and slow,” the pastime of cruising came to the fore.

Municipalities eventually implemented bans as a result of concerns about traffic, noise and alleged crime. Lowriders, and cruising itself, were said to be targeted by law enforcement, and subject to a watchful eye (if not harassment at times). Now, California has a new law on the books that lifts both the restrictions on lowrider cruising, and the restrictions that prohibited the body of a vehicle from riding closer to the ground than the bottom of its rims.

Catalytic Converters

As part of the efforts to crack down on theft of catalytic converters, California law now requires a motor vehicle dealer or retailer to have the catalytic converter etched or engraved with the VIN of the vehicle, before either a new or used car or truck is sold. The purchaser can decline having this done, but it seems to be a worthwhile precaution.

Ron Sokol has been a practicing attorney for over 40 years, and has also served many times as a judge pro tem, mediator, and arbitrator.  It is important to keep in mind that this column presents a summary of the law, and is not to be treated or considered legal advice, let alone a substitute for actual consultation with a qualified professional.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.