911 call about reckless driver leads to drug seizure in Illinois

A call from a concerned motorist about an erratic driver on the afternoon of July 8 led to a major drug seizure and serious narcotics charges for a 38-year-old man according to media reports. The motorist called 911 at about 1:45 p.m. to report a reckless driver on Illinois Route 106 between Detroit and Pittsfield. During the ensuing traffic stop, police allegedly found fentanyl, cocaine and heroin in the car.

A Pittsfield Police Department officer says that he pulled the car over because it matched the description given by the concerned motorist and he observed it making an unsafe lane change. A K9 unit was then called to the scene to conduct a drug sniff around the vehicle. When the dog alerted to the scent of illegal drugs, police reportedly conducted a search without first obtaining a search warrant.

During the search, police discovered 15 capsules containing white powder. Field testing kits were then used to identify the powder as cocaine, fentanyl and heroin. The Greene County man behind the wheel was taken into custody and charged with drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held at the Pike County Jail according to media reports.

When presented with a set of facts like this, experienced criminal defense attorneys might seek to have drug charges dismissed based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Rodriguez v. United States. In that case, the justices ruled that police may not extend a traffic stop unreasonably to summon a K9 unit if a drug sniff is unrelated to the original reason for the stop. Attorneys may also question the use of field kits to conduct drug tests as they have been known to identify benign substances like baking powder and sugar as cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Source: The Supreme Court of the United States, Rodriguez v. United States, Syllabus, April 21, 2015

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