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Frisk of Automobile – Generally

State v. Gary A. Johnson, 2007 WI 32, affirming 2006 WI App 15
For Johnson: Eileen A. Hirsch, SPD, Madison Appellate


¶23      In Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977), and Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032 (1983), the United States Supreme Court applied the principles of Terry to the validity of protective searches executed during a roadside stop. In Mimms, 434 U.S. at 111, the Court established a per se rule that an officer may order a person out of his or her vehicle incident to an otherwise valid stop for a traffic violation. However, to conduct a protective search of that person, the Mimms Court concluded an officer must be able to point to specific, articulable facts supporting a reasonable suspicion that the person is dangerous and may have immediate access to a weapon. Id. at 111-12.

¶24      Similarly, in Long, the Supreme Court held that officers may under the proper circumstances conduct a protective search of the passenger compartment of a vehicle during a traffic stop. Citing TerryLong concluded that such a search is justified when an officer reasonably suspects that the person “is dangerous and . . . may gain immediate control of weapons” placed or hidden in the passenger compartment. Long, 463 U.S. at 1049.


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