Police put on their lights and sirens and pull drivers over for many different
reasons. Speeding, reckless driving, and running a red light can all land
a driver on a road's shoulder with a cop at the window. There are
some violations that a person can be pulled over for that may not be as
common. For instance, if a police officer sees a passenger not wearing
a seatbelt in a vehicle, he or she can stop the vehicle.
This was the case for two New Jersey men earlier this week. A police officer
pulled over a vehicle after noticing the passenger was not wearing his
seatbelt. However, while the initial reason for the traffic stop was a
seatbelt violation, the passenger ended up facing much more serious charges.
It is unclear how exactly the officer performed an investigation after
he pulled over the vehicle. Though, a news report indicates that the officer
"located suspected marijuana and Percocet" on the passenger.
The report does not detail why the officer suspected the passenger might
be in possession of drugs. After finding these drugs on the passenger,
the officer arrested the man and took him to jail. The man was later released
and given a court date.
Any time a person is pulled over for a standard traffic violation, it is
critical that he or she knows the rights an officer has to perform a search
of one's body or vehicle. If a traffic stop is for a basic traffic
violation, then the officer cannot search the vehicle without probable
cause. For example, if the officer can smell marijuana coming from the
vehicle or can see marijuana through the car's window, the officer
has probable cause to perform a search of the vehicle.
If a person is charged with
drug possession after a search during traffic stop like this one, the person facing charges
will want to make sure the search was legal. Seeking guidance from a criminal
defense attorney could be very beneficial.
Source: Patch.com, "Traffic stop for seatbelt violation leads to drug arrest," Toniann Antonelli, Feb. 13, 2013