What might start as a routine traffic stop in Arizona can sometimes end with more serious charges. If police smell the odor of drugs or alcohol or observe erratic behavior, this may be enough to warrant a vehicle search. If illegal substances are found during the course of the search, the occupants could face drug charges, including possession, drug transportation or possession with the intent to sell.
Such was the case for three residents of Phoenix. The driver was charged with driving on a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia after police pulled him over for driving under the minimum speed limit on I-17; he was travelling 40 miles per hour in a 75 mile per hour zone. The police officer conducting the traffic stop smelled marijuana and subsequently searched the occupants and the vehicle. A package of meth was discovered in the underwear of a female passenger. She now faces drug possession charges, as well as criminal impersonation charges. Another occupant of the vehicle was charged with tampering with physical evidence in addition to drug possession charges because he threw a bag containing methamphetamine out of his jacket when he stepped out of the car.
Search and seizure laws in Arizona are complex. Even if law enforcement officers have probable cause to conduct a vehicle search, proper protocol must be followed. Anyone who feels that their constitutional rights may have been violated during a vehicle search may want to consult with an attorney. Having an unbiased legal professional evaluate the circumstances surrounding the search could result in having drug charges that were a direct result of the search thrown out if it is determined that the law was not applied properly or the search was not warranted.
Source: kpho.com, “3 face drug charges after I-17 traffic stop,” Phil Benson, Dec. 19, 2013