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  1. #1

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    A question about Searches....

    Jurisdiction / State: Texas

    This happened about a year and a half ago...I was asleep when there was a knock on the door, Illinois State Police and some sort of DEA task force fellow with a dog. "We need to search" the State cop says and ordered me outside to wait. They looked under the bed, in the closets, even in my fridge and microwave and behind the TV, in my toolbox....nothing found and they said I was OK. Then they did the same to the guy next to me and then the guy behind me.
    Well the same thing just happened again in a different state, Texas this time, except I asked what if I did not want them to search without a warrant or at least a reason. The cop said that not letting him search is the same as admitting that I'm guilty of "something" and if I did not let him proceed he would hold me there and not allow me to go to work for 10 hours, so I consented, then my wife and I were ordered outside to wait by a pole while he did his search,... and found nothing.
    Did I give up my constitutional rights because of my occupation? I work in the most regulated industry in the nation, we are OTR truck drivers and these things happened on the truck. We live in in this truck over 300 days a year and it's more my house than my house is....
    I guess the question is, Is this legal and do we have to put up with it, and if not, what should I do about it?


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    You should not have consented. If you question the tactics of the officers or their moral conduct, contact the agency and make a formal complaint (written). You can also contact a local attorney to see what options you might have.
    Generally- if they do not have a warrant, they can not enter without a warrant. Tell them no, mean no, and do not change from no. Disregard their threats... all they want is for you to say something that implies concent so they can justify their actions and not get busted when you later complain.

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    Well we might try that just to see what happens, but usually we have a schedule to keep and don't want to get shutdown for 10 hrs. The overzealous DOT has the power to issue an 'Out of Service' order at their discrestion...usually we take the path of least resistance and let them do what they do and be on our way. It just doesn't seem right.

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    Wait ... were you in your HOME? Or, a truck? Or some other location?

    EDIT: Okay, I see it happened in a truck.

    A motor vehicle by its very nature allows for some exceptions to the warrant requirement for searches if probable cause to conduct a search exists. The key to any such search is going to be WHY they want to conduct the search, and what their probable cause is to compel a search if consent is not granted. As Moose suggested, next time just refuse the consent. they can NOT use your refusal as consciousness of guilt as that would defeat the entire purpose of consent.

    If you refuse to grant consent, and they insist upon searching anyway, do not physically prevent them from searching, simply make it clear that you do NOT consent and be prepared to make a complaint about the officer(s)' actions or contact an attorney later.
    Last edited by CdwJava; 12-29-2009 at 12:06 AM.
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    Re: A question about Searches....

    In the words of Nancy Reagan, just say NO!


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    Yes it was in the truck. This was after they had already checked the weight, my licence and Hazmat cert., insurance, registration and permits. Then they go over the truck...lights, leaks, brake measurements and so forth which is a good thing in the way of safety (there are some trucks that should not be on the highway) however, I feel that they do the search when there is nothing else to hand out a ticket for. A little fishing expidition inside the truck,... might get lucky They never find anything but I just don't like them going through our stuff. They make a mess.
    Until you have to deal with these guys up close and personal, you'll never know just how nasty, rude and abusive they can get if you don't do what they want.

    Where's the ACLU when ya need em....out protecting screwballs and bad guys I guess....

    Thanks for the responses, but I'll probably just let them do their thing at the weigh station as usual...

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    Check your state laws regarding use of canine. In most states, police can use a canine on the outside perimeter of a vehicle with no probable cause. You should never give consent. The trick is to not answer the police, but to state "I do not consent to searches." By answering a cop yes or no, they think your are saying yes or no to the actual search. Anyway, if you would have denied search - I doubt the cop would detain you for 10 hours. He is allowed to detain you for a certain period of time before obtaining another cop with a canine. In your case, the canine was already there. Thus, if you would have denied right to search, and your state (I'm assuming) allows the dog to search the outside of the car, they would tell you to remain in the vehicle while they walked the dog around your truck. Don't be fooled by the dog. I call this the pig and doggy show because it always involves a cop with a dog. The dog is just a prerequisite to search because the cop will ALWAYS say the dog "hit" on a certain area of the outside of the vehicle - whether the dog really did or didn't. Who are you to question the validity of the officer's perception of the canine "hitting" on drugs? The judge too for that matter. If you would have denied, he would have run the dog around the outside, said it hit, removed you from the vehicle (by force if necessary), and searched your truck anyway. The dog and piggy show is used by many officers in many states as a prerequisite to search your vehicle. It's the police's way of detouring your rights and they've been getting away with it for a long time. This has happened to me in Arizona, a friend of mine in Texas, a friend of mine in Nevada, and also in Utah. If you would have clearly stated denial of search, then they did the dog and piggy show, and from that found no contraband, you would have a 50% shot at a civil liberties suit.

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    An update to this problem

    With the implemtation of CSA2010, the DOT has made the search of the inside of a truck standard procedure for a Level 1 inspection at the weigh stations. I just don't understand how they can make up rules to suit their needs even if they violate the constitution... I have no idea what they imagine drivers are up to. I have never heard of them finding anything on anyone...we just move freight, thats it...

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    Their suspicion might come from t.v. shows or other reports they hear of narcotics be smuggled through the freight industry. The other day I saw around three state trooper's who stopped a truck and proceeded to hit the tires with their baton's to see if their were drugs stuffed in the inside of the tires. My question is where does probable cause end and discrimination begin?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kwb5064 View Post
    Their suspicion might come from t.v. shows or other reports they hear of narcotics be smuggled through the freight industry. The other day I saw around three state trooper's who stopped a truck and proceeded to hit the tires with their baton's to see if their were drugs stuffed in the inside of the tires. My question is where does probable cause end and discrimination begin?
    Commercial vehicles are subject to different rules and can be subject to increased attention and inspections depending on the laws in a particular state. All that is required for a detention (a stop) is articulable reasonable suspicion to believe that something is amiss. The requirement for a search (entering the car, not thumping the tires) would be articulable probable cause to believe that there is contraband inside the vehicle.

    Unlawful discrimination occurs when someone is detained or search solely upon their perceived inclusion in a protected class of people. An unlawful detention occurs when there is no articulable reasonable suspicion to detain someone, and an unlawful search occurs when there is insufficient or a lack of articulable probable cause to support a search.
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