Law enforcement agencies are profiling and targeting drivers with out-of-state license plates along Nebraska Interstate 80.
While less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction ($300 fine) possession of hash oil is a felony. Possession of larger amounts of marijuana can result in possession with intent to deliver charges carrying up to 50 years in prison.
Law Enforcement Tactics to Crack Down on Out of State Drivers Can be Considered Questionable
Police are often using dubious and illegal tactics to stop drivers. If the police illegally stopped or searched your vehicle, the drug charges resulting from these traffic stops may be dismissed. If you act quickly to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.
Police refer to the Interstate 80 corridor through Nebraska as the “drug pipeline.” Law enforcement agencies have cracked down on individuals transporting illegal drugs through Nebraska, most often in Perkins, Lincoln, Dawson, Buffalo, Hall, Polk, York, Seward, Lancaster, and Douglas Counties.
Police have received special drug interdiction grants to unleash special operations and used seized drug money to bolster their enforcement efforts.
Law enforcement officers can only search a vehicle or a person for illegal drugs if they have a valid reason for stopping the vehicle. Recently, many officers are stopping vehicles for minor traffic offenses, especially vehicles with out-of-state license tags, hoping to get consent to search the vehicle for drugs.
Police use “ruse checkpoints” where they place a sign along I-80 notifying motorists that there is a drug checkpoint ahead. A drug checkpoint is illegal. There is always an exit from I-80 just before the non-existent checkpoint.
All motorists that use the exit are followed until they make a minor traffic infraction, stopped and asked for consent to search. Many people erroneously think that consenting will make things better and the police find drugs.
Interstate 80 Drug Case Can be Defended in Court
In many cases, a K-9 unit will be “close by” to assist in the traffic stop. Something that began as an improper lane change, failure to use proper signals, or speeding just a couple miles over the posted speed limit quickly becomes a felony drug arrest.
Recent Supreme Court and Nebraska Court Opinions have already been published disapproving of these tactics. The United States Supreme Court also recently held that any delay of a motorist for a canine unit may be illegal. Under prior case law, a reasonable delay was allowed. This new change may benefit you.
It is important to remember that you have legal rights if you feel you have been profiled and targeted. Officers cannot pull over a vehicle without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. You may have a valid legal defense to your drug arrest. Contact Tom Petersen online or by calling 402-509-8070 to schedule your free case evaluation.
Examples of Recent Interstate 80 Traffic Stops Targeting Out of State Drivers
As a result of the out-of-state vehicle profiling by law enforcement officers, Interstate 80 Traffic Stops have increased substantially in recent months. Some of those traffic stops result in arrests while others harass innocent motorists simply traveling along Interstate 80.
Below are actual events that have occurred because of the Interstate 80 Traffic Stops by Nebraska law enforcement officers.
- Three Arrested for Possession and Intent to Deliver Drugs – In December 2014, Nebraska State Patrol stopped two vehicles on Interstate 80 near Lincoln, NE for traffic charges related to an improper lane change and following too close. Officers state they smelled drugs and requested a K-9 unit. Upon searching the vehicle, marijuana and cocaine were found hidden in furniture. All three suspects were arrested. Both drivers were from California and they were traveling from California through Nebraska.
- Douglas County Sheriffs Make Three Interstate 80 Traffic Stops in Two Days – In January 2015, Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies made three traffic stops in just two days along Interstate 80 that resulted in three drug arrests. The first was a driver traveling from California to Indiana who was stopped for a traffic offense. The driver and two passengers were all arrested on marijuana charges. The second traffic stop was later that same afternoon. The driver and passenger, both from California headed to Iowa, were arrested on drug charges. The third was the next day when another driver traveling from California to Pennsylvania was stopped for a traffic infraction and ultimately arrested on a marijuana charge.
- Driver & Passengers Arrested During Interstate 80 Traffic Stop – In April 2015, Nebraska State Patrol stopped a vehicle on Interstate 80 in Seward County for failing to signal and following too closely. The trooper stated he smelled marijuana and searched the vehicle. The driver and passengers were arrested on drug charges. They were all from California.
- Colorado Dad and Kids Subject to Search during Interstate 80 Traffic Stop – Probably one of the worst cases of Interstate 80 marijuana profiling by Nebraska law enforcement occurred two years ago when a father and his children were detained and searched for over two hours simply because they had Colorado license plates. One officer admitted that when they see Colorado plates it “instantly makes us start watching you.” The officers found no drugs during the search.
Contact Petersen Criminal Law to Speak with an Experienced Drug Defense Attorney
Are you Facing Drug Charges from an Interstate 80 Traffic Stop?
Do not let an Interstate 80 Traffic Stop ruin your life. The decision you make today may affect your future. Tom Petersen has aggressively represented clients across Nebraska providing experienced criminal defense services for over 16 years. 90% of his practice is in the criminal courts.
You can trust that Tom Petersen will work diligently to protect your legal rights, freedom, and reputation regarding an Interstate 80 Traffic Stop. Contact his office online or by calling 402-509-8070 to schedule your free case evaluation. We offer 24-hour jail release assistance too!