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May 2005
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Lessons from a Seat Belt stop

Via Radley Balko, comes this gem.
Here’s the story in brief: Officer pulls over Estrela (age 19) who is not wearing a seat belt as part of the “click-it or ticket” seat belt campaign, targeting those who are under 18 and not wearing a seatbelt (officer thought he was younger). While investigating his age, the smell of marijuana is noticed and back seat passenger appears to be clutching something. Officer asks her to show him and it’s a $10 bag of pot. Officer then gets consent to search the car and finds 101 tablets of Oxycontin and $3,980 in cash. Seat-belt violation now turns into felony drug bust with multiple charges and forfeiture of Estrela’s car.
Now there are some basic lessons to be learned from this story;

  1. Don’t smoke pot in the car.
  2. In particular, don’t smoke pot in the car when you’re carrying a bunch of illegal drugs and cash.
  3. If you’re smoking pot in the car and carrying a bunch of illegal drugs and cash (see #1 and #2 above), wear your seat belt.
  4. When pulled over, don’t hold your marijuana tightly in your fist.
  5. Never, never consent to a search. They may end up searching anyway, but you should never consent, even if you have nothing. You never know what someone else might have left in your car.
  6. If you carry lots of cash with you, be prepared to make a large donation to your local police agency (the police also seized the $353 Estrala had in his wallet).
  7. Big Brother is keeping an eye on you.

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