I’ve been pulled over several times in the past for the stated reason of “failing to maintain lanes.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybodydrive perfectly in between the two lines on a road. I’m no exception. Cops are no exception. This is why lanes are wider than cars. To accommodate the fact that we’re all human and incapable of perfection. The “failing to maintain lanes” charge is so vague that anyone can be pulled over for that, and police can use that charge as probable cause to suspect that the driver may have been drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana. This allows them to try to intimidate the person as much as possible into letting them search you and your vehicle for anything that might be tied in some way to alcohol or drug use. If you don’t consent to a search, that makes them even more suspicious.
Every time I’ve been pulled over in such a situation, it’s always been at night. I’ll see the cop off to the side of the road watching for people just like me to pull over. I’ll check my speed to make sure I’m not going over the speed limit, and I’ll make sure I’m driving as carefully as possible. It never matters. I get pulled over anyway. And then as the cop is approaching my window, he asks, “Is there something you’re nervous about? If you haven’t done anything wrong, there’s nothing to be nervous about.” This must be a routine question that cops are trained to ask in order for drivers to more readily “admit” their crimes.
I admit, I am usually nervous, even though I’ve never committed any crimes to which I would have to confess. I am a person of small stature. Cops are usually bigger and taller than I am. They come across as cocky and stern and act suspicious of everyone. They try to intimidate people with their black, government-issued costumes. They have a gun and a taser and won’t hesitate to use either one if they feel threatened in any way even if their suspicion is completely unjustified. They can kill, injure, threaten violence, plant evidence, lie, etc. and get away with it because of their position in society. In fact, they might even be rewarded for heroic behavior. What do I have to be nervous about, right?
I realize I’m generalizing about police. The point is, they interpret that nervousness as “acting suspicious.”
This is just what happened recently to two women in Texas when they were pulled over for throwing their cigarette butts out the window on a highway. State trooper David Farrell gave them a ticket regarding their littering. When he returned to his car, he radioed in for help from a female police officer because he thought the two women were “acting weird.” While waiting for the female police officer to show up, Farrell pulled the older woman aside and questioned her about where she was coming from and where she was going and why. He then asked her point blank, “How much marijuana’s in that car, and don’t lie to me?” She told him she didn’t smoke marijuana. He asked his previous question again and added, “I didn’t ask you if you smoked it…. The more upfront you are, the better it’s going to go for you.” He asked where it was hidden in her car, or where it was hidden on her person. She was obviously taken aback that she was being treated like such a criminal without any evidence to support his suspicion. He then claimed that he “smelled marijuana.” She told him she didn’t have any marijuana on her anywhere or in the car.
When the female police officer arrived, she gave both women a body cavity search in full view of passing drivers. The women were both probed all with one glove. Without going into any detail, I trust you can see why that poses a hygienic concern.
But that’s not even the issue. It was a completely illegal search. It was all based on the officer’s faulty claim that he smelled weed and that the women were “acting weird.” At the heart of the matter is the war on drugs that allows and encourages this kind of behavior from law enforcement. Body and property searches without a warrant, which requires real probable cause, not a mere hunch, are violations of the Fourth Amendment. The Constitution is supposed to protect us from these very things.
The two ladies were very compliant with the officers’ demands during the whole ordeal, which was caught on video, but decided to sue the two police officers and the head of the police department in federal court for the illegal roadside body cavity search. A grand jury will hear the case next month.
Expect these body cavity searches to become part of traffic stops and to become routine at public places like airports and shopping malls. They will all be about making sure people aren’t hiding anything anywhere.
For our safety, of course.