Recently, a Springfield man got pulled over by highway patrol. What could have been a minor traffic interaction went sideways when troopers found 30 pounds of meth inside the vehicle. The driver was taken into custody.
This is a horrific situation to find yourself in, facing serious drug charges. Let’s take a look at the situation and what you should do.
Constitutional Applications Regarding Vehicle Searches
Three major questions must have reasonable answers to constitute a vehicle search.
- Can law enforcement justify stopping your vehicle?
- How does law enforcement justify searching the vehicle?
- Where were the drugs found in the vehicle?
Consequences of Controlled Substance Convictions
In Missouri, controlled substance drug charges are a Class D felony. Convicted offenders can end up doing seven years in jail and get hit with fines of up to $10,000. Persistents (offenders convicted at different times for two felonies) can get hit with a Class C. That comes with three to 10 years as well as that $10,000 fine.
Managing a Traffic Stop
It’s a stressful position to be in, getting stopped and interacting with police while there may be illegal cargo in the car. Here’s what you should remember.
- Remain calm. Avoid making friends. Even your behavior is usable in court.
- Follow instructions, presenting your license, proof of insurance and registration.
- Your car can be searched with no warrant. (Later, law enforcement has to justify the action.) But protect yourself anyway. When the police ask can they search the vehicle, tell them “No.”
- If they search the vehicle and find drugs, the police will arrest you.
- Don’t confront the police, get into arguments or be insulting.
- If you want to say, in a non-confrontational way, this is a mistake, do so. But never forget no matter how it got there, the police found drugs in your vehicle. They are following the law regardless of your circumstances.
- Don’t try to run, resist or touch any officer.
- Do not answer any questions.
And, most important of all, the second an officer produces handcuffs, say you want a lawyer. At that point, they should stop asking questions.