ST. PAUL (AP) -- During routine traffic stops, police cannot ask to search the car or question its driver and passengers about unrelated things without a reasonable suspicion that another crime is being committed, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled.
Relying on the Minnesota Constitution, the ruling expands protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, in which police can ask for searches with the acknowledgment that motorists can refuse.
Defense attorneys say Thursday's ruling is a victory against racial profiling that will make a significant difference in everyday lives.
It is "probably the most significant civil rights decision for the state of Minnesota in the last 10 years," said Leonardo Castro, chief public defender in Hennepin County, whose office handled the case for a passenger in a car who was arrested by Minneapolis police on a drug charge.
The defense argued that people of color are questioned and asked for searches more often than others during routine traffic stops, even if police have no particular reason.
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