“They sure seem to know which cars to stop in Henry County, IL” – July 15, 2015
It should not take an extended amount time for a Police officer to conduct a routine traffic stop – that is unless the traffic stop is an excuse to initiate a full blown narcotics investigation. Vehicles that meet certain characteristics are routinely stopped in Henry County along Interstate 80 (I-80) for minor traffic infractions, i.e. going slightly over the speed limit, following too close to another vehicle, ect. In the May 12, 2014 Rock Island Dispatch • Argus article ‘Interstate whispers’ boost I-80 busts in Henry County Attorney Steve Hanna states “They sure seem to know what cars to stop (referring to the number of traffic stops that result in drug investigations along Interstate 80 in Henry County).” During the decades Attorneys Steve Hanna and Jonathan Ruud have been handling drug related cases in Henry County, they have seen law enforcement use routine traffic stops to go on a fishing expedition to determine if the vehicle is being used to traffic narcotics or drugs. Hanna & Ruud, LLC has argued many times in Henry County, IL that a routine traffic stop does not give law enforcement ‘probable cause’ to initiate a narcotics investigation – and in many cases have successfully had evidence which was illegitimately obtained by law enforcement suppressed from being entered into evidence.
While law enforcement has been able to get away with these tactics in the past, the tide may be turning. Earlier this year, April 2015, the United States Supreme Court Ruled that law enforcement cannot extend a traffic stop to initiate a narcotics investigation without justification in the case Rodriguez v. United States. In this case Mr. Rodriguez was pulled over for veering onto the shoulder of a highway in Nebraska and the officer prolonged the stop after issuing Rodriguez a warning until a K-9 unit could arrive on scene to search the vehicle for the presence of drugs. In the majority decision Justice Ginsburg explained, “Because addressing the infraction is the purpose of the stop, it may ‘last no longer than is necessary to effectuate that purpose.’ Authority for the seizure thus ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are—or reasonably should have been—completed.”
While this ruling helps protect individuals’ civil liberties, and safeguards against law enforcement agents who disregard the Constitutional Rights afforded by the Fourth Amendment, it does not set a specific time limit for a traffic stop – thus leaving the determination of “how long is too long” for a traffic stop up to the presiding Judge in these types of cases.
This blog entry, nor is any other information for on this website, is not intended as legal advise. Please view our Disclaimer. At Hanna & Ruud, LLC we understand that choosing an Attorney is an important decision and such a decision should not be made solely on the contents of this website.
By: Hanna & Ruud, LLC Attorneys at Law
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