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Police stop elderly driver and insist on search

No one has an obligation to help police investigate a crime and if you are being stopped by a Washington, D.C., officer, it is wise to say as little as possible. There are certain rights that police officers cannot and should not infringe upon, such as the right to refuse an unreasonable search. Typically, police officers must have some reason to search a car, house or person, but if they conduct a search without a good enough reason, judges may throw out criminal charges.

Reuters has reported on an 87-year-old man that has recently been charged with federal drug charges after police insisted on searching his pickup truck. Police allege that after they searched the truck, they discovered 230 pounds and 104 bricks of cocaine hidden in five bags.

The man seems to have been driving on Interstate 94 near Ann Arbor when he was pulled over by a Michigan state trooper. According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, the trooper had allegedly observed the elderly driver make an improper lane change and noticed that he was following too closely to the driver in front of him. After pulling over the 87 year old, the trooper requested a search of the truck.

When the driver wisely refused the search, a trooper called for a drug-sniffing dog. It is unclear how long the trooper made the octogenarian wait for the dog unit. It is also unknown why the state trooper made an initial request to search the driver's vehicle or insisted on using a drug dog to sniff the vehicle. Since the driver had initially been pulled over for apparent minor traffic violations, the trooper would not have found additional evidence of traffic violations in the man's car.

Once the drug dog arrived, the police claim that it alerted to the potential presence of drugs in the truck bed.

Source: Reuters, "Man, 87, nabbed with 230 pounds of cocaine, police say," James B. Kelleher and Cynthia Johnston, Oct. 25, 2011

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013