It is well established in New Mexico that a law enforcement officer cannot extend the scope of a traffic stop beyond the initial basis for the stop in the absence of fairly restrictive circumstances.
However, the issue of a passenger's right to challenge the scope of the ensuing investigation had not been specifically addressed until the recent New Mexico Court of Appeals case of State v. Portillo.
Portillo involved a routine traffic stop. The defendant, Portillo, was a passenger in the car. The officer went through the standard procedure of requesting the driver's license, insurance and registration. As he was conducting the investigation, the officer noticed that the defendant passenger "remained looking straight ahead with his hands in his lap, avoiding eye contact with Officer Thatcher and only glancing furtively at him once when Officer Thatcher moved."
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