In a recent opinion from an Arizona court, the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of drug possession was denied. Originally, the defendant was charged and convicted of transportation of dangerous drugs for sale when a police officer found 40 individually packaged bundles of methamphetamine in the defendant’s truck. On appeal, the defendant argued that the officer did not have a legal basis to initiate a traffic stop in the first place, thus the evidence was illegally obtained. The court disagreed, affirming the defendant’s conviction.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, an officer was patrolling one evening when he noticed a pickup truck on the road that he identified as “lifted” – it had no rear fender splash guards, in violation of Arizona law. The officer was particularly familiar with this kind of pickup truck because it was his “dream” truck, so it was easy for him to recognize that something was awry. Pulling the truck over and initiating the traffic stop, the officer began speaking with the driver, the defendant in this case.
The officer and the defendant spoke for about ten minutes, and the officer noticed that the defendant seemed nervous. Based on the defendant’s behavior, the officer began to suspect criminal activity. He also noted that the defendant claimed he had not been to California in three years, but the officer knew from a records check that the defendant had been there just one month earlier. The officer asked if he could search the defendant’s car, and the defendant declined the search request but agreed that the officer’s dog could search the exterior of the vehicle. Upon this search, the officer immediately uncovered 50 pounds of methamphetamine in the truck.