Anyone who travels along Interstate 80 through the State of Nebraska will notice the ubiquitous nature of law enforcement vehicles. The reason for this is simple – the I-80 corridor is well known as a route for the distribution of illegal drugs making their way into the United States from Central America. Whether you are a Nebraska resident, or just a visitor traveling through the state, being stopped and investigated can definitely put a damper on your day. With that in mind, an Omaha I-80 drug stop attorney offers tips for motorists that may help you avoid being stopped or help you successfully navigate a traffic stop if one cannot be avoided.
Interstate 80 and the Drug Trade
Illegal drugs entering the United States come by air, water, and land. Those that make their way from Central America often cross the U.S.-Mexico border and then travel north before spreading out to the eastern and western parts of the country. Because Interstate 80 runs across the northern half of the U.S. from the west coast to the east coast, it is a common drug route. Law enforcement agencies across the country are well aware of this. Consequently, anyone traveling on I-80 runs the risk of being targeted, whether they are actually part of the drug trade or not.
Tips for Motorists
For a law-abiding citizen, being the subject of a traffic stop is certainly an inconvenience. If that stop turns into a full-blown drug investigation, however, it can be much more than a minor inconvenience. While there is no sure fire way to avoid being stopped while traveling through Nebraska on I-80, there are some tips that will minimize your risk of being targeted, including:
- Inspect your vehicle before traveling – law enforcement officers frequently use a “pretextual” stop as a Segway to launch a full-blown investigation. A pretextual stop is one wherein they use a minor traffic violation, such as a malfunctioning taillight or an obscured license plate as an excuse to effectuate a traffic stop when, in reality, they suspect the motorist of committing a much more serious crime, such as drug smuggling.
- Avoid traveling at night if possible – drug smugglers often travel at night because it is difficult to see who is in the vehicle and they believe the darkness offers protection and the possibility of escape.
- Keep within 5 miles of the posted speed limit – this is another common reason given for pulling over a vehicle. Be sure not to drive too slow as well though because drug smugglers often do this out of fear – and law enforcement officers know that, making slow-moving vehicles every bit as much of a target as fast-moving ones.
- Avoid drawing attention to your driving – don’t weave in and out of traffic. Avoid flashy vehicles if possible and keep the music to a reasonable level. The more you blend with other vehicles the less likely you are to be stopped.
- Don’t fall for a ruse checkpoint – a favorite tactic of law enforcement agencies is to use “ruse” checkpoints. Signs are set up on the interstate warning drivers of an upcoming drug checkpoint. There is no such thing as a drug checkpoint; however, drivers who are unaware of this, and who are afraid of being searched, will take the next exit in an attempt to avoid the checkpoint. Law enforcement officers are waiting at the bottom of the exit and follow the vehicle until they find a pretext for stopping the vehicle upon which they conduct a traffic stop – precisely what the driver was trying to avoid by taking the exit in the first place.
If You Are Stopped
If you end up being stopped despite your best efforts to avoid it, do not make your situation worse by arguing or disrespecting the officers. Most of them are simply doing their jobs. Have your license, proof of insurance, and registration ready but do not exit the vehicle unless asked to do so. You are not required to answer any questions; however, providing answers to basic questions may move the stop along faster. Make a mental note of the time of the initial stop and the given reason for the stop as these may be important if you end up charged with a criminal offense. If the officer asks to search your vehicle, do not consent. The officer may search anyway; however, giving your consent removes one potential avenue of defense should something illegal be found during the search. If you end up under arrest, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible and say nothing in the meantime.
Contact an Omaha I-80 Drug Stop Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with drug-related criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, do not hesitate to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.