Drivers and Pedestrians Must be Informed of the Reasons for the Stop Before Questioning for Criminal or Traffic Investigations

January 1, 2024

Assembly Bill 2273, set to be effective from January 1, 2024, introduces a significant change in California’s Vehicle Code 2806.5. This legislation mandates that law enforcement officers, during traffic or pedestrian stops, must articulate the reason for the stop before initiating questions related to a criminal or traffic investigation.[1]

However, a provision in the law permits officers to withhold the reason if immediate danger to life or property, including instances like terrorism or kidnapping, is at stake.[2] Moreover, the law necessitates officers to record the grounds for detention on any resulting citation or police report.

Nonetheless, the consequences of violating this statute remain uncertain, potentially rendering it a “right without a remedy,” raising doubts about whether such violations would lead to evidence suppression or any meaningful repercussions.


Legal Footnotes

[1] See Veh. Code 2806.5(a) – (“A peace officer making a traffic or pedestrian stop, before engaging in questioning related to a criminal investigation or traffic violation, shall state the reason for the stop. The officer shall document the reason for the stop on any citation or police report resulting from the stop.”)

[2] See Veh. Code 2806.5(b) – (“Subd. (a) does not apply when the officer … believes that withholding the reason for the stop is necessary to protect life or property from immi- nent threat, including, but not limited to, cases of terrorism or kidnaping.”)

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