The scope of a police investigation must be limited to the original purpose for the traffic stop. If you were stopped for a burned out tail light or for speeding, the scope of the police investigation must be limited to the original purpose for the stop. The officer can only ask you related questions such as, “How fast were you driving?” or “Did you know your tail light was burned out?” That’s it.
The scope of the traffic stop may only be expanded by the officer if there is additional independent probable cause or additional suspicion of drug related criminal activity. If you are stopped for speeding, the police are prohibited from asking you questions related to your drug use or drug possession absent reasonable suspicion to justify the intrusion. The police can not ask questions like, “Would you mind if I search your car?” or “Will you sign this consent to search form?” If there is no additional suspicion that the driver is in possession of a controlled substance, police are not allowed to ask you for consent to search your car for drugs.
If you did consent to the search of your car and the police found drugs, an experienced drug defense attorney will file a motion to suppress the evidence on the grounds that the police illegally expanded the scope of their investigation without additional suspicion of drug related criminal activity. If the defense motion to suppress is granted by the court, the drug evidence seized by the police can not be used against you at trial. Without the use of the drug evidence at trial, the criminal charge will be dismissed by the court for lack of probable cause.
If you, or someone you know, has been charged with the sale or possession of a controlled substance, call drug crime lawyer Robert J. Shane for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024.