Highway Honeypot

Police set up a highway sign warning motorists that there are random stops for narcotics checks ahead, but actually search people who take the next exit.

Posted on September 15, 2010 at 6:12 AM • 69 Comments

Comments

Not really anonymousSeptember 15, 2010 7:06 AM

No it isn't nice to see that. Those searches should be illegal (but I seem to remember at least some case law establishing them as OK). What if that's your normal exit? Exiting a highway should not generate probable cause for a search.

WayneSeptember 15, 2010 7:14 AM

I agree with the statement that taking an exit should be considered probable cause for searching

No OneSeptember 15, 2010 7:25 AM

@Wayne: Really? So if the cops announced that they'll be searching all people who leave their homes tomorrow (remember, lying is legal) then they now have probable cause to search all people who chose not to leave their home that day, for whatever reason?

(Or the inverse, of course.)

Grant GouldSeptember 15, 2010 7:25 AM

What on earth p-value are they using for "probable" in that probably cause? I can't imagine that the probability of finding narcotics rises to anything a reasonable person would regard as probable.

chrisSeptember 15, 2010 7:26 AM

what next, "random weapons searches ahead" and then they open fire when you take the next exit?

guy who made this call needs his law enforcement career summarily terminated.

clvrmnkySeptember 15, 2010 7:27 AM

@Wayne, I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here. Taking an exit is probably cause? Please, describe in your own words how this even meets the bar for probable cause.

SteveASeptember 15, 2010 7:55 AM

At first I thought - who cares - I don't use drugs. But it's that whole slippery slope - today it's narcotics and then tomorrow it's because of the car I am driving or my last name sounds non-American or it's the music I'm listening to (stoners like the Phish!)

Clive RobinsonSeptember 15, 2010 7:57 AM

@ Clever Monkey,

"Please describe in your own words how this even meet the bar for probable cause?"

Short answer "What bar?"

Slightly longer answer "It is set where the Judge decides on a whim, because otherwise he would be taking other case related factors into account and that used to be a no no."

BF SkinnerSeptember 15, 2010 8:02 AM

@Not really anonymous "I seem to remember at least some case law establishing them as OK"

It depends on how the checkpoint is established. A deputy can't just park his car at an intersection and inspect everyone coming by. But an announced checkpoint for a purpose like drunk driving check or motor vehical registration and license is lawful.

It has to be announced and I believe that people have to be given the oppourtunity to alternate route it so to my thinking avoiding it by leaving at an exit shouldn't be construable as probable cause.

Some of the relevant caselaw:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... - using roadblocks for border security
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... - removing drunk drivers from the road
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... - "limited the power of law enforcement to conduct suspicionless searches, specifically, using drug-sniffing dogs at roadblocks"

ajdSeptember 15, 2010 8:19 AM

There are two separate components to this story.

There is the ingenuity of the police in their idea.

Then there seems to be the legality of the searches in general.

I can't comment on the second as I'm not American and don't know US law in detail but I do like their idea. Of course it doesn't mean that everybody that takes the next exit has drugs but I'd be willing to bet (like the police did) that a high percentage of people travelling with any notable amount of drugs would try and avoid the indicated checkpoint. All they've done is use a heuristic to reduce the search space, a sensible thing to do when resources for searching are finite.

chrisSeptember 15, 2010 8:32 AM

@ajd:

then you also are probably not aware that police in the state of louisiana are notorious for illegal searches, corruption, bribery... in a drug search stop by a louisiana cop, if he doesn't find what he's fishing for, half the time he'll just plant something and arrest you anyway, unless you cough up a bribe.

most of the arrests resulting from this stop were probably personal-use amounts. the guys who were actually smuggling were just pulled aside and their bribery arrangements renegotiated or reaffirmed.

either way, our constitutional jurisprudence severely condemns any search based on such flimsy nonsense as "they took the exit after our sign advertising illegal searches, so our resulting search was legal".

anonSeptember 15, 2010 8:53 AM

In many countries is illegal to lure citizens into performing any action that is illegal or even suspect.

Honeypots like leaving a bait (i.e. a wallet on the floor) cannot be allowed to avoid going down along a slippery slope.

Erik WSeptember 15, 2010 8:59 AM

Recently, while driving down a city street, I encountered a small traffic backup. The stoplight ahead was out of order and flashing four-way read. When I got to the intersection, I discovered that what was really happening was that as the cars were stopped, a cop in each of the four directions was walking along the line. He'd walk past about 4 cars, then walk back to the intersection and wait for fresh cars. He was checking for seatbelt and cell phone use and anything else he could use for probable cause. When I got to the head of the line I saw that there were several cars pulled over into a nearby parking lot getting written up for whatever they could find.

The police are not there to help you. The police are there to arrest people. The fact that in arresting people they are often helping you is largely coincidental. And they feel they can bend laws to arrest people, because they feel they are doing the right thing by arresting people and the ends justify the means.

BradSeptember 15, 2010 9:29 AM

These police are Doing It Wrong. I've heard of a more legal version of this scheme in Nebraska, where much of I-80 has a wide grass median separating the two sides of the highway. There are emergency vehicle paths across the median every few miles, all of them marked with a "No U-Turn" sign.

Law enforcement set up their fake checkpoint warning within sight of one of these emergency vehicle paths and with no exit in sight, and then watched for people committing illegal U-turns to turn around. The illegal U-turn gave them cause to pull over the drivers. I don't know if that by itself was probable cause for drug searches. They probably used drug dogs or drug runners' stupidity for the rest.

RoySeptember 15, 2010 9:47 AM

The police run a for-profit business, and they run most of their business off the books. This will help you understand when the police will not take a crime report from you, the victim: it's a business decision.

HJohnSeptember 15, 2010 10:04 AM

@anon: "In many countries is illegal to lure citizens into performing any action that is illegal or even suspect. Honeypots like leaving a bait (i.e. a wallet on the floor) cannot be allowed to avoid going down along a slippery slope.
________

I don't think that really applies here. It's not like an undercover cop is persistently trying to get someone to traffic drugs in spite of his initial refusal. When the car takes the exit, it already either has them or doesn't have them, the crime is not influenced by the sign.

That said, taking an exit is not grounds for search. However, I've noticed that may people transporting drugs are also notorious for speeding, driving without a license, driving with expired license plates, having busted tail lights, etc. Coralling people who are at a higher risk for transporting into an area where they can be witnessed committing another crime wouldn't really concern me, as long as they didn't stop someone they wouldn't have stopped anyway.

HJohnSeptember 15, 2010 10:07 AM

@Brad: "The illegal U-turn gave them cause to pull over the drivers. I don't know if that by itself was probable cause for drug searches."
_____________

In itself, no. But once the driver is found to have no license, no insurance, no valid license plates, not a registered driver of the car, or something in open view, then they have cause.

jbSeptember 15, 2010 10:32 AM

I'm left wondering about the constitutionality of the checkpoint here under Indianapolis v. Edmond:

"However, the Court has never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing" [e.g. narcotics possession in Indianapolis

"The latter purpose is what principally distinguishes the checkpoints at issue from those the Court has previously approved," [sobriety, license/registration. immigration] "which were designed to serve purposes closely related to the problems of policing the border or the necessity of ensuring roadway safety."

HJohnSeptember 15, 2010 10:52 AM

@jb: ""However, the Court has never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing"
_____

I think it is one of the problems with the court system. It should not be their job to approve or reject a problem, it should be their job to interpret the law and rule whether or not a program is legal under the law. Whether or not they agree with the program, or are sold on its benefits, is wholly irrellevant.

Steven HooberSeptember 15, 2010 11:08 AM

See similar for decades. Bar district here has (sometimes) an obvious, blinky-lights police checkpoint on the most obvious exit. Taking it, they wave through anyone not clearly weaving and crashing into the cones, so it takes no extra time to get home.

If you swerve away from this to take one of the few twisty back streets away instead, you are very likely to turn a corner and come across another checkpoint where they inspect pretty much everyone with some detail.

Legality.

BF SkinnerSeptember 15, 2010 11:20 AM

@HJohn "Whether or not they agree with the program, ...is wholly irrellevant. "

Don't know that that is so. We always here them 'balancing' law, personal rights and government interest. It's why some of the search laws are so weird. It is in the government interest (public safety) that minimally intrusive drunk driver check points are established by reducing the number of drunks on the road. It's an infringment when all motorists are screened for potential crime - that's a huge amount of possibilities that would have to be checked.

It's reasonable to make evidence addmissable that a police officer could see in through the window but not if he opened the trunk over the objection of the driver.

So they are constantly weighing the benefits against the costs. If not we wouldn't need judges/umpires just a written flow chart to cover all events.

RookieSeptember 15, 2010 11:29 AM

@Roy, @Erik W
"The police run a for-profit business" and "The police are not there to help you."

Regardless of the merits of the referenced story, you seem to believe that LEOs are to be despised. Are there some crooked cops? Sure, there probably is about the same percentage of dishonest cops as there are dishonest IT security workers.

If you think your life would be better without the police, visit Somalia and enjoy the anarchy.

John N.September 15, 2010 11:54 AM

@anon. - "In many countries is illegal to lure citizens into performing any action that is illegal or even suspect. Honeypots like leaving a bait (i.e. a wallet on the floor) cannot be allowed to avoid going down along a slippery slope."

In the US, at least, entrapment is a defense to prosecution. It is an admission that you committed the action of which you are accused, but a claim that you would not have committed the action but for the actions of the government (threats, excessive encouragement, etc.), thus, you lacked the mental state necessary to be guilty of the crime.

John

KevinSeptember 15, 2010 12:00 PM

@Rookie

Whether or not there are more dishonest cops 'exploiting the public trust' than dishonest IT security workers doing the same, the real problem is police protect fellow officers, while I don't see any equivalent to the "blue wall of silence" in IT.

Policing attracts people who crave power over others, while IT Security attracts people who, at worst, want 'secret knowledge' or to amass huge pr0n collections.

Are the police there to help you? Is law enforcement and jail operated for a profit?

JakeSeptember 15, 2010 12:00 PM

the US border patrol internal checkpoints are set up in such a way that they are unavoidable. how is that constitutional?

DanSeptember 15, 2010 12:06 PM

@Rookie: A crooked IT security worker does not have the access and power that a law enforcement officer has. Sure, a crooked IT person can make your life difficult...but a crooked law enforcement officer can destroy your life.

Also, the "don't like cops? Live in Somalia!" argument is a false dichotomy. Those are not the only two choices. Personally, I would like to see law enforcement officers with a lot less power and lot more more accountability.

JessSeptember 15, 2010 12:08 PM

@Rookie

Even if police were all wonderful ethical people (if you imagine this, I speculate that you haven't met many police), the advice of Roy and Erik W would still be valid for any civilian who must deal with police. It is to one's benefit to realize that when one interacts with police, one does not interact with one's friends. This is due to their position, their power, and their incentives, not to whether they are "honest" or "dishonest". Your assumption that dishonest people are not drawn to occupations that give them ample opportunity to profit by their dishonesty is a real howler, however.

As to this particular trap, I don't support prohibition so of course I don't support any enforcement of it. But this trap is NOT a new one. I recall my father pointing out little-used rural interstate exits where police employed this technique when I was a child, and I'm not young. If drug runners are still falling for this one (the article might be historical; I can't tell because the site is down now), there must not be much institutional learning or inter-generational education taking place in that occupation.

However, it seems possible that when police employ ancient techniques, drug runners have slightly-less-ancient counters to those techniques, which counters might be less publicized. Who knows what mayhem might occur somewhere else while police resources are occupied at a highway exit in the middle of nowhere? As long as they're getting their numbers, the police won't mind.

HJohnSeptember 15, 2010 12:26 PM

I know of an audit once where they wanted to audit for inappropriate, even illegal, use of a network, which is not easy to do with over 1,000 employees. What they did was they ran a backup, and when the backup was done they announced "we are performing an audit of the files on our network, please do not delete anything during the audit." A few days later, they ran another backup and audited what was on the first backup but deleted before the second.

Some people cried "entrapment" and "coersion", but I don't think it applied. They didn't cause anything to be created or pressure anyone into doing anything they shouldn't be doing. They simply found a way to identify what people did not want them to see, which shoulnd't have been there in the first place.

I don't think it is fair to stop people just because they took an exit, but I don't think an "entrapment" argument applies here since the narcotics existed well before they were persuaded to take the exit.

Alex CVSeptember 15, 2010 12:30 PM

If you choose the exit carefully, the "normal" volume should be pretty low. I can think of a few highway exits that exist only to serve a few farms where the normal traffic is probably measured in cars per week...

HJohnSeptember 15, 2010 12:53 PM

One problem I do see here is that I would probably exit just to avoid the hassle. While it is true that those with narcotics would self select themselves for search, many innocent people would probably do the same.

TimHSeptember 15, 2010 1:00 PM

The case CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS ET AL. v. EDMOND ET AL. Decided November 28, 2000 http://supreme.justia.com/us/531/32/case.html decided that "... city operates vehicle checkpoints on its roads... Respondents, who were each stopped at such a checkpoint, filed suit, claiming that the roadblocks violated the Fourth Amendment... Held: Because the checkpoint program's primary purpose is indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control, the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment." due to "...rule that a search or seizure is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment absent individualized suspicion of wrongdoing"

I argue that "individualized suspicion of wrongdoing" is exactly what turning off at an rarely-used exit provides.

HarrySeptember 15, 2010 1:54 PM

If you don't want US cops to search your car, get out of it in a way that is not threatening to the cops (ie, can't reasonably be interpreted as attack). Cops have legal authority to search a car ONLY insofar as needed to preserve their physical safety - which generally means for weapons in arm's reach of the driver. If you're not in the car then they haven't the immediate right to search.

HarrySeptember 15, 2010 2:01 PM

There are some bad cops in the US and some more officious or rude ones. But this readership is doing a disservice to a group of people that, as a whole and on average, do a whole lot of good. We[1] do not live in a recourseless totalitarian dictatorship, please do not write as if we do. Writing as if we do minimizes the true evil that exists in resourcess totalitarian dictatorships.

[1] We = USans here. Most law-enforcement related material Bruce writes is about the US and responses are generally about US as well.

Davi OttenheimerSeptember 15, 2010 2:04 PM

Well, the surprise is out, but I still think my first reaction would be to disbelieve this kind of sign.

No one says "WARNING...searches ahead" when they want to search you. So I would assume the sign is fake or a joke or worse, trying to engineer a reaction.

Zack StewartSeptember 15, 2010 2:21 PM

Bruce, in the future please put a warning notice on links to marijuana-focused sites for those of us who might be reading your blog at work.

JamesSeptember 15, 2010 2:23 PM

So perhaps that sign saying zombies ahead in Austin a few months back was a trick too. In fact there were no zombies and the police were just trying to get whatever person was trying to stay alive :D

SamSeptember 15, 2010 4:07 PM

@Davi Ottenheimer:
Actually, yes they do. Legit (= Sobreity) checkpoints do have to warn you ahead of time.

Mark ASeptember 15, 2010 4:20 PM

@Bruce I'd sure like to hear you weigh in on these civil rights posts, in addition to just re-posting links.

RoySeptember 15, 2010 5:27 PM

@Rookie

Simply put, if there were good cops there would be no bad cops.

Real professionals police their own professions, weeding out the bad ones. Anyone protecting a colleague who violates the law is an accessory to the crime and, as a law enforcement officer, guilty of obstruction of justice.

margoSeptember 15, 2010 6:07 PM

"Of course it doesn't mean that everybody that takes the next exit has drugs but I'd be willing to bet (like the police did) that a high percentage of people travelling with any notable amount of drugs would try and avoid the indicated checkpoint. All they've done is use a heuristic to reduce the search space, a sensible thing to do when resources for searching are finite."

I don't think so: criminals know that drug-search roadblocks are prohibited in the US, so they will smell something fishy and won't take the exit. The only people you will likely catch are innocent people who want to avoid the slow traffic due to the roadblock, and casual drug users who panic at the idea of being searched.

EHSeptember 15, 2010 8:23 PM

So, what of the sign that advertises a search that is not happening? No harm no foul, no big deal if tax money is spent on a sign that lies?

pchSeptember 15, 2010 11:54 PM

Hmmm. I've seen them set up fake speed traps here, then a little further down the road, hidden over the brow of a hill or round a corner, have the real speed trap.

So, motorist sees the first trap, slows down, then once past, speeds up again, just in time to get caught at the real speed trap.

While this was deemed not to be illegal, it was deemed "not cricket", so they abandoned the practice.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 16, 2010 4:03 AM

@ EH,

"no big deal if tax money is spent on a sign that lies?"

Yes big deal.

Because it will not be one sign it will be hundreds and you dear tax payer will be footing the bill for this as oposed to something more usefull like maybe books for schools etc etc.

And is often the case in the UK somebody will find there is a financial conection between the entity placing the order and the entity forfilling the order.

David ThornleySeptember 16, 2010 9:42 AM

@TimH: I see no grounds for reasonable suspicion. If I take a certain exit, I may actually be going to a place on that exit. I may want to avoid checkpoints because of possible delay. Neither is cause for suspicion.

Your interpretation seems to be that a desire to avoid a search I can legally avoid is grounds for suspicion, and hence a search. This Catch-22 would completely trash the Fourth Amendment, as I'd have no way to avoid any search a LEO wanted to perform.

dragonfrogSeptember 16, 2010 11:42 AM

@HJohn

QUOTE:
I know of an audit once where they wanted to audit for inappropriate, even illegal, use of a network,...

Some people cried "entrapment" and "coersion", but I don't think it applied. They didn't cause anything to be created or pressure anyone into doing anything they shouldn't be doing. They simply found a way to identify what people did not want them to see, which shoulnd't have been there in the first place.

/QUOTE

You are right that the objections of "entrapment" and "coercion" didn't apply, but you are wrong as to why.

They didn't apply not because of the actions, but because of who conducted them. It was OK, because the people conducting the audit had every right to examine all the files on the network. All they did here was trick people into pointing out which ones they should focus on.

The story here is different - the police do not have a default right to pull people over and search their cars, including by means of drug-sniffing dogs. Tricking people into pointing out which cars they might want to focus on is irrelevant - doing so in the first place is an invasion of privacy, and an invitation to abuse of powers.

Incidentally, establishment of probable cause due to drug dog findings can look like this:

Officer: This dog is trained to find drugs, and he's indicating that there are drugs in your car. Step out of the car, I'm going to search.

Dog (via body language): [any one of]
- There are drugs in this car.
- There are no drugs in this car.
- There are no drugs in this car. There are drugs in your pocket, but you already knew that.

Really, what does a positive finding from a drug dog mean? It could as easily mean the cop decided to search your car because he didn't like you, and had a dog handy to provide an excuse. The dog can't contradict the cop in court, and no one is going to listen to the civilian when he says the dog was showing no interest in the car. If the cop finds drugs, or plants and "finds" drugs, the civilian gets convicted, and the cop's testimony on the dog stands up in court.

There also probably wasn't much history of IT staff planting copyright material under the accounts of users they disliked, or accepting bribes to overlook offences.

dobSeptember 16, 2010 12:20 PM

@Harry:

"If you don't want US cops to search your car, get out of it in a way that is not threatening to the cops (ie, can't reasonably be interpreted as attack)."

If you're a dark-skinned male in many municipalities, there is simply no way to do that. Exiting your vehicle before being ordered to do so by the police is likely to get you shot.

HJohnSeptember 16, 2010 1:07 PM

@dragonfrog: You are right that the objections of "entrapment" and "coercion" didn't apply, but you are wrong as to why. They didn't apply not because of the actions, but because of who conducted them.
____________

Actually, I'm not wrong, but I get your point, maybe I didn't word it well.

Entrapment and coercion don't apply because the drugs existed before they were duped into taking an exit. The issue with the police is whether it was illegal search and seizure. Entrapment/coercion would be if they police pressured someone into transporting drugs them busted them--someone who wouldn't otherwise have been involved.

We probably agree more than it seemed... you do make valid points.

Mr. StoneSeptember 16, 2010 1:30 PM

Funny, I thought the Supremes allowed DUI checkpoints while admitting they were unconstitutional, but that searches couldn't be conducted for a 'general law enforcement purpose.'

David SchwartzSeptember 16, 2010 11:23 PM

Sorry, there's no way to argue that taking the exit created reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Otherwise:

Officer: May I search you for {drugs, weapons, contraband}?
Suspect: No.

Does the officer now have reasonable suspicion or probable cause? Of course not. There are any number of reasons a rational person would want to avoid a run in with police, only one of which is that he had committed a crime.

In fact, I'd argue that any rational person faced with two equally good routes, believing there's a police checkpoint at one and none at the other would avoid the checkpoint. If innocent, they're avoiding hassle, the possibility that a dirty cop might plant evidence, and they're avoiding wasting police time on an innocent person.

I cannot believe any person who can speak in complete sentences can argue that taking the exit creates reasonable suspicion with a straight face.

Paul TomblinSeptember 17, 2010 7:00 AM

I was in the Adirondacks last weekend, and every day there is a Border Patrol traffic stop on the road between Old Forge and Long Lake. My friends who have a cottage up there say the road block has been there all summer. I submit that every drug or people smugglers in the entire world would know that road block is there about 2 days after it went up, and so they're extremely unlikely to do anything except increase the traffic on the million other ways a drug or people smuggler can get from Canada to the US.

BlueThunderSeptember 17, 2010 9:54 AM

Very interesting. I read down through half way... indeed it is very interesting and bloggers all have valid points.
Gotta love the Law domestic/global..its still represented by (not so thoroughly vetted, super-naturally authorized) humans who harbor maliable tendencies to be influenced in the right or wrong creed of living. (I.E. drug lords who have unquestioned reign over more land/residents than some state politicians and then the peons who easily get trolled into less than ideal living standards and get sold "gateways of periodic get-aways" for market/ black market price at the cost of their freedoms, all influenced by the ultimate drug lords, the law enforcers themselves. Key word 'enforcer', its up to them which creed they want to proceed.

Harmy GSeptember 17, 2010 10:00 AM

I have no problem with checking for impaired driving, but if you are minding your own business and not bothering anybody else, you should never be arrested.

Dan Grossman (4th Amendment lawyer)September 17, 2010 12:49 PM

Narcotics check points are simply illegal:

Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000)

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/...

With regard to the person who commented that taking the exit ramp gives police reason to stop the car, the courts have held that taking action to avoid an interaction with police does not, by itself, give police the Reasonable Articulable Suspicion which is required to detain an individual or stop a car for questioning. Numerous courts have held that people have a "right to be left alone" and that there are many completely innocent reasons to want to avoid an interaction with police (including simply the desire to avoid unnecessary delay in one's activities.) In a very recent example (from just a few days ago) the Georgia Court of Appeals held that police were not justified in detaining people who were seen fleeing through the rear door of a house when police knocked at the front door:

http://fourthamendment.com/blog/index.php?...


Former Urban Street CopSeptember 17, 2010 2:15 PM

Ironically, I became a civil libertarian once I became a police officer and saw the petty abuses exacted by my fellow officers upon the general public.

Once my thrill seeking was exhausted, I left the job to eventually become a lawyer working for the financial services industry....leaving one tyranny to serve another,eh? :)

I suspect that most cops or formers cops dislike cops more than the average U.S. citizen would dislike them.

Dave FunkSeptember 17, 2010 2:32 PM

My experience from the several countries I've lived in (in addition to the US) is that some (maybe lots) of cops can be pretty nasty. On the other hand, by the nature of their jobs, they pretty regularly see either the dregs of society or good people not at their best. The fact that sometimes (may times, most of the time) they act like they don't trust you or think you are slime until you prove differently is an occupational hazard for them. When IT specialists start getting shot at as part of their regular duties then you can compare their work with cops. Until then, yeah, the comparision with Somolia is pretty fair. In France and England, some parts of town are far more dangerous than Harlem ever was. But the police, at least, are not dangerous.

DonSeptember 18, 2010 10:32 AM

Funny that I just happen here today and read this. Only yesterday while traveling north on I-55-70 in Caseyville IL (Metro St Louis) I saw a similar sign just before an exit. It advised of a drug checkpoint with k-9 a mile ahead. I thought it was odd since anyone could exit before the checkpoint and about one mile ahead with the ramp for I-255 which would be an awkward place for any checkpoint. And of course, as I continued on, there was no checkpoint.

GabeSeptember 18, 2010 7:40 PM

I worked with someone who this happened to. Except he never turned off the freeway. They stopped him right past the merging on ramp and asked him why he turned off the freeway (i.e. When did you stop beating your wife?). they then asked him where his gun was to which he answered he didn't have one. Their response was "well you told us you had a gun". This kept on until he finally "consented" to a search. After finding nothing, they sent him on his way 4th amendment be damned. Fortunately for him, he knew a state rep so an apology from the state police was forthcoming.

benEzraSeptember 20, 2010 8:54 AM

"I argue that "individualized suspicion of wrongdoing" is exactly what turning off at an rarely-used exit provides."

On Fourth Amendment grounds, refusal to consent to a search is not probable cause for a search.

Taking an exit to avoid a voluntary search/fishing expedition, merely constitutes refusal to consent. It does *not* equate to "reasonable suspicion" for a Terry stop, IMO, much less probable cause for a search.

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