Thursday, January 29, 2004


The title may be premature, the prosecution could still take this to the state Supreme Court however, the Iowa Appeals court handed down a great decision in a traffic stop case.

Alright, so the guy really did have 227 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his rental car but it's clear to me the evidence should have been suppressed. The cops were fishing, something I see as a growing trend of 'cannabis consumer profiling'. It's apparent here in the Happy Valley on the interstate going into Vermont, well-known lair of plant afficionados. But judge for yourself.

Nikolsky was first stopped that day in western Iowa by State Patrol trooper Jason Bardsley, who noticed the California plates on the car and followed it off the highway to a closed gas station and back on the highway for about 21/2 miles, the decision states.
Bardsley asked him questions about his destination, sought permission to search the car and ultimately had a drug-sniffing dog brought to the scene for an external search of the vehicle, according to the decision.
When the dog did not detect any drugs, Bardsley allowed Nikolsky to leave, but he contacted Trooper Jeffrey Benson in eastern Iowa with a description of the car, the decision states.

Now here's the second stop.

Benson said he identified Nikolsky’s car because it was only traveling 62 mph in contrast with the “75-(mph)-plus” rate of the other I-80 traffic and also noticed that Nikolsky looked straight ahead, did not look at him and had both hands on the wheel, according to the decision.
The trooper pulled over Nikolsky when he said he saw the driver weave over the center line and weave in an exaggerated fashion inside his lane. But the appeals court said a review of a videotape taken from Benson’s vehicle did not show those things happen and there was testimony that it was a windy day.

He pulled him over because he was driving too safely? He called in the drug dog again, who miraculously 'hit' the car and they opened the truck. The cop later admitted he made the stop based on the phone call.

Much is being made these days about the danger to the public from those driving under the influence of cannabis. I don't know when the driver of that car last got high, but you can pretty much be sure he's at least inhaled once and it sounds to me like he was driving better than most of the people I get behind on the interstates.

[Cheers to Eric Mytko for this and many other tips]


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