What Clues Do the Police Look for If They Suspect the Driver Has Ingested Marijuana?

Interviewer: When someone’s pulled over, are there specific indicators the police are looking out for when they suspect the driver has smoked marijuana?

The Police Are Always Looking to Pull Drivers over at Night

Jerry Novak: First of all, as far as traffic violations go, any traffic violation is good enough to stop you. After I’d say five or six o’clock in the evening, they’re always going to automatically assume that someone is driving under the influence. They’re always going to start out with questions like, “Have you had anything to drink tonight? Are you on any medications? Is there anything wrong with you? Are you feeling okay?”

Avoid Lengthy Explanations: If You Are Stopped, Limit Your Conversation with the Police

People think that if they tell them some kind of explanation or story that’s going to help them. That, of course, is the exact opposite. It only gives them probable cause to go further.

The Police Can Perform a Pat Down of Your Clothing and Often Claim They Felt the Outline of Drug Paraphernalia

Once they get you out of the car, they can do what they call a pat down for officer’s safety. That’s the guise. If they feel anything lumpy in your pockets, they’ll say in the police report that they felt the outline of a pipe, or they felt the outline of a box that they commonly recognize to be a one hitter, or they felt the outline of another type of drug paraphernalia, and, again, things start to go downhill. That’s one way.

If You Disobey the Officer, You May Be Placed in Handcuffs

The second way is if they do find some reason to arrest you, other than DUI. Let’s say disobeying a police officer. You try to walk away, or the police officer says, “Hey, I want to handcuff you for my own safety. You’re not under arrest, but I just want to handcuff you, because there are so many people here, but you’re not under arrest.” They’ll keep telling you that.

Unfortunately, when you’re handcuffed, you really are under arrest, because you don’t have that freedom to leave. Let’s say you pull away from the officer. Well, now he’s got you on resisting arrest, even though he kept telling you, “You weren’t going to be arrested.”

If the Officer Has Probable Cause for an Arrest, They Can Perform an Inventory Check of Your Vehicle

The minute the officer has any reason to arrest you then they can do an inventory search of the vehicle. The inventory research was originally designed to protect police officers against claims that something was stolen or was stolen from the vehicle after the arrest.

While they’re doing the inventory search, they’re, of course, going to come across paraphernalia. They’ll look in the ashtray. Maybe they’ll find a roach. They’ll look between the seats. They’ll look in the console. These are very common places that people hide their drugs.

If it’s a woman, the drugs may just be in her purse. If it’s man, he may have some type of backpack or other bag. It’s really important, again, to prevent the police officers from having any type of reasonable grounds to even get you out of the car.

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