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Baby, You Can Drive My Car. But should you? A look at Kansas v. Glover

The Beatles’ 1965 song “Drive My Car” is about a woman planning on being a star who is asking the song’s narrator to be her chauffeur and also maybe she’s proposing other things. At the end of the song the woman admits she doesn’t actually have a car, but presumably when she gets one she wants the narrator to drive it. One can figure she is already up for the other things she’s proposing. Good for you, song woman!

But this post isn’t about the more salacious parts of the song. It’s about the woman asking the narrator to drive her car in the literal sense and how, pursuant to the new United States Supreme Court decision in Kansas v. Glover, he should be very cautious, as we all should be, when driving someone else’s car.

Kansas v. Glover has a pretty simple fact pattern. An officer is driving and runs the tags on a 1995 Chevy he happens upon, which is a normal procedure. The results of that show the car is registered to a Mr. Glover, and that Mr. Glover has a revoked driver’s license. Based on that information alone, the officer pulls over the Chevy and confirms that the driver is indeed the same Mr. Glover who owns the truck and citations are issued.

The issue in this case is whether upon the running of a vehicle’s plate and learning that the vehicle is owned by a person without a proper license can an officer stop the vehicle based on that alone. The answer is yes, because the court states that common sense provides enough reasonable suspicion that the driver of the vehicle is also the owner.

The Court does note that since this is a common sense observation, if the officer realizes that the person driving the car is obviously not the registered owner then that common sense reasonable suspicion goes out the window.

For example, sometimes I drive my husband’s car since it has more room for our two large dogs and it has seat warmers, which my car is disappointingly lacking. Never again will I make the mistake of buying a car without seat warmers as long as I live in a place that gets cold, but I digress. If my husband were to have a revoked driver’s license (which I hope he doesn’t) and I were driving his car, an officer would hopefully notice that I am not the large bearded man whom the car is registered to and therefore would not have that common sense reasonable suspicion to stop the car, and myself and the dogs could continue on our merry way.

Now let’s go back to the pair in the Beatles song: the star and the narrator. Perhaps the star is looking for a driver because she does not have a valid license. How responsible! I do hope that she achieves her goal of obtaining stardom and a car, and that when she does the narrator will indeed be her driver like they planned. We know that the star uses “she” pronouns, but we know nothing of the narrator. Perhaps the narrator is also a woman of similar age and look to the star. She is certainly at risk of getting pulled over if that car is registered to the improperly licensed star! While the narrator’s license may be perfectly valid and all the stop would be is a minor inconvenience, who wants to deal with that and possibly be late to wherever they are going due to a traffic stop.

So the take away from this post is be careful when you are driving someone else’s car! If their license is no good you have a risk of being stopped based on that alone. Even if you don’t look anything like them, the officer may not get a good look at you and still stop you. If that happens, though, give me a call, because that would be an interesting fact pattern to litigate!

I hope everyone is staying safe at home if you can! And if you aren’t already familiar with the song I discussed, go give it a listen. It’s a good one.

-Elisabeth