State v. Cox, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 53 (May. 15, 2018)

The traffic stop at issue was not unduly extended. The defendant, a passenger in the stopped vehicle, argued that officers extended, without reasonable suspicion, the traffic stop after issuing the driver a warning citation. The stopping officer had extensive training in drug interdiction, including the detection of behaviors by individuals tending to indicate activity related to the use, transportation, and other activity associated with controlled substances, and had investigated more than 100 drug cases. The officer observed a sufficient number of “red flags” before issuing the warning citation to support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and therefore justifying extending the stop. When the officer first encountered the vehicle, he observed body language by both the driver and the defendant that he considered evasive; the driver exhibited extreme and continued nervousness throughout the stop and was unable to produce any form of personal identification; the driver and the defendant gave conflicting accounts of their travel plans and their relationship to each other; the officer observed an open sore on the defendant’s face that appeared, based on the officer’s training and experience, related to the use of methamphetamine; and background checks revealed that the driver had an expired license.