No one likes getting a traffic ticket, especially for something very minor. Fines, driving courses, driver’s license points and higher insurance are all likely consequences you have to deal with. Usually, after paying the ticket, you can get back on with your life.
However, sometimes routine traffic stops for small infractions such as failing to use a turn signal can become more serious. What starts out as the police pulling you over for a simple matter can lead to drug charges in the end, as happened to this New Jersey man. His story is not unique, though. New Jersey news reports reveal there are many more like it, exposing how real a risk it is.
The link between traffic stops and drug charges
The police have multiple reasons they could pull you over, and it only takes one to give a cop the opportunity to uncover other illegal behaviors. Officers cannot just search your vehicle automatically, though. They must have a warrant or your consent. If the police ask to search your car, you do not have to agree to it! They can also search if they have probable cause, such as visible drugs in your car or, like in the mentioned story, a smell emanating strongly from your vehicle.
Also, during DUI checkpoints, police can check for impairment from any drug, not just alcohol, and that can lead to discovery of drug possession. Canines may also be there and alert their officers to the presence of drugs.
If you find yourself facing drug charges after a traffic stop, a conviction is not your sealed fate. Search and seizure laws are not cut and dry, so an experienced attorney may be able to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. For example, did the police have the right to pull you over in the first place? What was the probable cause to commit the search? If the police violated your rights in some way, you may get out of the charges.