An investigation by the Des Moines Register of about 22,000 traffic warnings and citations issued by two Iowa State Patrol crime-interdiction teams from 2008 to 2012 showed that eighty-six percent (86%) went to out-of-state vehicles. Of these, 16,375 were warnings and 5,685 tickets.
NUMBERS, REASONS AND PROBLEMS
The states with the most warnings and violations were: California (approximately 12%); Colorado (almost 11%); and Illinois (almost 10%). The most warnings and citations were for speeding, window tint violations and failing to carry insurance.
The reason given for so many stops is, in part, to stop illegal drugs from traveling into or across the state. The findings noted above have called into question the tactics being used to pinpoint possible criminals.
Sgt. Rob Mordini of the Iowa State Patrol said motorists are not being targeted exclusively because they come from other states. While out-of-state plates are a factor, it is only one of many according to the sergeant. Other factors that set off suspicions include: questionable driver behavior, such as sweating profusely or having dilated pupils; conflicting stories between drivers and passengers; or drivers who do not know exactly where they are going.
Mordini also acknowledged that the legalization of marijuana in states such as Colorado and Washington has “changed the dynamics of interdiction,” but he said troopers are not singling out motorists from drug-source states.
Troopers, under Iowa law, may detain drivers while completing “routine tasks” relating to traffic violations. However, after this initial investigation is complete, further detention and investigation without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or consent is considered unlawful. Iowa courts have held that “mere nervousness, youth or the fact [that] drivers are traveling cross country” are not legally sufficient reasons to search a vehicle unless the troopers receive consent from the driver. Iowa actually has a written “Consent to Search” document that Troopers are supposed to get drivers to sign.
Criminal defense lawyers have been successful having charges thrown out for the reasons set forth above. In addition, it is believed that the Iowa courts have indicated that motorists have more rights under the Iowa constitution than federal law.
SOURCE: Lee Rood / The Des Moines Register: Register Investigation: Iowa State Patrol nabs more drivers from out of state
BE CAREFUL if you are driving across Iowa with out-of-state plates, make sure you follow all traffic laws or you might be pulled over especially if a trooper suspects you might be transporting illegal drugs.