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The Fourth Amendment guarantees '[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.' Temporary detention of individuals during the stop of an automobile by the police, even if only for a brief period and for a limited purpose, constitutes a 'seizure' of 'persons' within the meaning of this provision. See Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U. S. 648, 653 (1979); United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U. S. 543, 556 (1976); United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U. S. 873, 878 (1975). An automobile stop is thus subject to the constitutional imperative that it not be 'unreasonable' under the circumstances. As a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred. See Prouse, supra, at 659; Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U. S. 106, 109 (1977) (per curiam). 

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