Can cops legally run license plates while driving?

I was stopped at a red light the other day, and when I looked in the rear-view mirror, the cop behind me was looking at my license plate while typing into her computer. Are cops allowed to run license plates while they drive?

Maxine Boyko · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
Yes, police officers can check license plates at any time for any reason because your license plate is in public view* This means running your plate is not, by itself, an illegal search or seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
In simpler words: It is not an invasion of privacy. Police officers, like anyone else, are allowed access to public information.
If a police officer wants to make a traffic stop, however, they will need reasonable suspicion of a violation. In this case, the officer is able to scan your plates to check for any existing warrants or suspensions on your record and use them to pull you over.
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