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On the Road, Police Power Has Few Limits

Professor Seo recently published an article in The Atlantic, titled “On the Road, Police Power Has Few Limits.”

From the article:

Officers’ power is fundamentally at odds with the notion of freedom on the open road. In American culture, driving is an expression of personal liberty. But under the law, driving is a privilege, not a right, and drivers are subject to extensive police surveillance. For years, legal minds have tried to resolve this paradox, which often comes up in challenges to police action. Should police be allowed to search the entire car when, after pulling over a motorist for speeding, the officer suspects illegal drugs or evidence of crime? Should a minor traffic violation open the door to a broader investigation of unrelated criminal charges? If there are limits on police conduct while they enforce laws on the operation of motor vehicles, what should those limits be?

Read the full article here. For more on how the rise of the car led to more intrusive policing, see Professor Seo’s recent book Policing the Open Road.

Sarah A. Seo, On the Road, Police Power Has Few Limits, Atlantic (July 14, 2019),

For more publications by Professor Seo, visit her faculty bibliography page.

Sarah Seo