Probable cause vs consent in speeding stop
October 28, 2011 8:58 PM Subscribe
I was pulled over for speeding and the state trooper claimed he smelled marijuana and was going to call out the K9 unit. Ultimately nothing happened, but I have questions about the situation and procedures.
posted by Slinga to Law & Government (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So, I was driving through Indiana, and I was pulled over for doing 74 in a 55. The state trooper who pulled me over came to the passenger's side window, and I rolled it down. He asked if I knew why he had pulled me over, and I said no, and he said I had been doing 74 in a 55 and asked for my license and registration. I gave both to him. He then said that he had "caught a little whiff of marijuana smoke when I rolled down my window," and was going to call out the K9 unit.
I was pretty surprised by this since I have never, ever smoked weed in my life (seriously), nor has anyone else smoked it in my car, which I bought used about 2 years ago. He went back to his car to do his thing, and I prepared to give the "I don't consent to any searches" spiel, but he came back about 5 minutes later, which was much sooner than I expected.
He said that "the K9 unit was busy" and that "the system was down." He asked me if I had ever been arrested (no) or ever gotten into any trouble driving (tickets, accidents, nothing recent). He asked the purpose of my trip and then said that he had "lost the scent" and I was free to go with a warning. This was quite a shock.
Anyway, I have several questions:
1. Why did I just get a warning?
2. Is it likely that he seriously thought he smelled weed? My car is a little musty, but I do know what marijuana smells like, and my car certainly doesn't smell like that.
3. I did a little googling, and it looks like just the claim of smelling marijuana gave him probable cause to search the car. Is that true?
4. Assuming the claim of a smell gave him probable cause, how would that situation play out? Would he just state "I'm searching your car now based on having probable cause" or would he ask my permission? Would I be arrested if I did not give consent?
5. Assuming a search took place, how serious are we talking? Just a cursory car inspection, or a complete teardown?
6. While the vehicle registration was not expired, the one in the glove box was only good through May. Could that have become an issue?
Thanks for any help you can give me. I'm just really curious about this and want to know what to do next time.