Many drug charges originate following traffic stops. Police officers pull over a car for erratic driving or a perceived problem with the vehicle. Once the stop has been initiated, it may lead to an eventual search and the discovery of offenses much larger than what first prompted the stop.
This was the case in July when Georgia law enforcement officers allegedly discovered a driver in possession of 10 pounds of marijuana, an AK47 pistol and several thousand dollars in cash. What led to the stop? According to news sources, it was a too-dark window tint.
Georgia law prohibits any tinting of the front windshield. Rear and side windows can be tinted, but the light transmission cannot be lowered to less than 32 percent. Officers can stop a car if they reasonably believe that windows are illegally dark. Unfortunately, the stop remains legal even if the officer is later proven incorrect.
News reports didn’t say why police eventually suspected that the driver was carrying drugs – only that the drugs were revealed by a K-9 search of the vehicle. But the Alabama resident now faces serious drug trafficking and weapons charges. And the stop occurred due to an offense that would have been charged as a misdemeanor.
This case is an important reminder that police officers don’t need to suspect drunk driving, drug possession or any other serious crime in order to initiate a traffic stop. It can be something as simple as a mechanical problem with the vehicle or, in this case, windows that the officer suspected were too dark.
Generally speaking, the legality of a traffic stop is an important matter to examine with a criminal defense attorney. This is because if a judge rules that a traffic stop was unjustified or illegal, it may be possible to suppress the evidence of everything discovered during the stop.
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, drug possession or any other serious criminal offense, please discuss your rights and legal options with an attorney as soon as reasonably possible.