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Pot profiling: Probable cause to stop Colorado driver in New Mexico is (literally) out of sight

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As we noted in an article yesterday asking whether Alabama cops think all Colorado drivers look like drug smugglers, we've been hearing from lots of folks on the subject of pot profiling.

Of course, officers are supposed to have probable cause to justify a traffic stop and a search for marijuana -- but there doesn't always seem to be a reason beyond the sight of a Colorado license plate. Here's an example of probable cause that was literally out of sight.

The teller of this tale is Desiré Anastasia, who notes via e-mail that last year, she loaded up her mother and her dogs in a rented Enterprise van with Colorado plates and began the trek from Denver to Lake Havasu for their annual camping trip.

desire.anastasia.cartwright.jpg
Desiré Anastasia.
"As we were driving through New Mexico, and I was driving, an officer flipped lights and sirens on," Anastasia recalls.

Why was the van targeted? At first, Anastasia had no idea. She looked over her shoulder at her mom, who was laying flat on the back seat and said, "Wake up. I'm being stopped and I wasn't speeding or talking/texting on my phone, and I'm wearing my seat belt, I promise."

As a humorous aside, Anastasia points out that "I am 35 and my mom is 58."

Her mom is also an ex-officer, and after the cop approached the van and began giving it a careful look, she asked why he'd pulled them over.

The reason he gave? In Anastasia's words, "My mom wasn't in a seat belt."

enterprise.van.jpg
Enterprise.com
Maybe not, but there's no way the New Mexico law enforcer could have known that until he looked in the window, since she'd been laying down at the time -- plus, the van had tinted windows.

At this point, the cop may have realized he was on shaky ground, probable cause-wise. "When she pulled out a seat belt from under her, he handed my information back to me and went back to his car with barely a word," Anastasia maintains.

Last week, Anastasia and her mother made the trip again, this time in a Yukon rented from Hertz. "How we didn't get stopped going through UT, AZ, or NM is way beyond me," she admits.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Pot profiling: Do Alabama cops think everyone from Colorado looks like a drug smuggler?"

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34 comments
Clark Snyder
Clark Snyder

Is it required or optional that Westword writers insult the intelligence of it's victims, er, readers?

Mark Bromley
Mark Bromley

Here in Northglenn, they profile cars for insurance stops because the cars look poor. Anything to make money for the cities in Colorado. That is what mandatory insurance laws create. A means for police to profile the poor and hurt them even more.

Michael Segler
Michael Segler

I think this is great, on account of all the "bad press" maybe some folks will move away from Colorado and maybe others won't move here at all.

Mark Mead
Mark Mead

The sky is falling, the sky is falling.

Joshua Tangye
Joshua Tangye

Brian , please shut up... Toll roads unconstitutional.

Brian Blosser
Brian Blosser

Ever travel a toll road? Did you pay the Toll? Yeah they are Unconstitutional but I don't hear anyone up in arms! Right to Free Travel

Brian Blosser
Brian Blosser

The more you start chirping about your rights and being belligerent to prove a point, the more I have seen cops get pissed and doing things to make your day even longer. My whole point is that I for whatever excuse was stopped, I gave the officer the info required. When asked if I had anything illegal in the car, my answer is and always is NO and you are welcome to check. Usually disarming the situation works...usually! I have been stopped after leaving a bar. A bar I walked into at the exact same time as the officer and walked out two minutes behind him. He pulled me over for a license plate light out, asked if I had anything to drink and I said yes, 1 beer! I ended up doing a roadside which this cop said I failed and I was taken to jail to do a breathalizer which I blew a .002, well within the legal limit. I yelled and screamed about rights only to be threatened with a disorderly Conduct charge. My Point: Pick your battles! If you get stopped multiple times in a state, then yes you may have a case. But stop me because I have Colorado plates and you are hoping for a big bust.....you will be sadly dissapointed but also will have to explain why you are wasting taxpayer dollars doing so! I have nothing to hide and am well versed in my Constutional rights. I give you more of a reason to detain me and search my vehicle the more I run my mouth!

Roy Hovland
Roy Hovland

Not a big fan of 4th amendment rights, are you?

Bill Workman
Bill Workman

My 7 year old could have came up with a better article. Fear mongers.

Kyle Williams
Kyle Williams

Because a cop has never planted anything or wasted your time just because he is a bored asshole. Never consent dude. Even if you gave someone a ride and they drop a stem without you know it. Now you have felony charges in some places...

Justin Harned
Justin Harned

The US is a police state. Cops can pull you over and demand body fluid sample and they don't need probable cause because they can just make it up. I haven't met an honest cop in my life. I was pulled over twice going through Nebraska and harassed beyond imagination. I was on tour with my band, we are clean cut, carrying 1,000's of CD's, music equipment filled the trailer in tow. We had a show scheduled at a well-known music festival in Iowa. They locked us the squad cars and cross examined everyone looking for anything they could to search the cars.

Gabe Romero
Gabe Romero

Don't mess with NM cops. They just shoot you if you upset them. I love NM don't get me wrong, but we pretty much have the SS for police.

Brian Blosser
Brian Blosser

I would challenge the consent and detention after the fact due to duress! I will challenge it all the way back to the original reason for stopping me.

Scott McMahon
Scott McMahon

I dunno..my policy is NEVER give them consent to do ANYTHING. Film the whole thing, ask for their superior to come down. And sadly enough lock your doors while this is happening or they will try to get into your car. You don't have to do a thing unless they are arresting you and then violating your constitutional rights.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

If you give them consent to search your vehicle, you are not being unlawfully detained.

adri_padilla2002
adri_padilla2002

Last year I took a trip to Atlanta Georgia in a rental car I was pulled over four times for various made up reasons and canine searched everytime because they "smelled" weed in a rental car that was brand new. No tickets . Just harassment even accussed me of not really being in a relationship with my boyfriend who was traveling with me even though we've been together for over 4 years . Its a real problem .

Brad Aerts
Brad Aerts

I know someone who got $1000 ticket

Tom Smith
Tom Smith

The article mentioned this occurred last year. This was BEFORE recreational pot use was allowed in Colorado. While I am sure this was profiling, the criteria here was an out of state rental license plate (which I am certain the cop knew before he pulled the van over), not just a Colorado license plate.

Brian Blosser
Brian Blosser

Are you carrying drugs in your vehicle? No? Then stop freaking out. The moment any Officer asks if you have anything, take control of the situation without being abhorrent! Place your hands on the top of the steering wheel and ask to be removed from your vehicle stating that you are consenting to a search (I am NOT in violation of any Laws and am giving you consent to search) notify officer that upon them not finding anything you will be filing a unlawful detainment complaint against him and his department. 99% will tell you to have a nice day!

Clayton Capra
Clayton Capra

So really, how often does this really happen? People make it seem like you can't leave the state.

Legen Dairy
Legen Dairy

New Mexico is a shitty state to begin with anyway. I've had horrible Hershey squirts in that state. The semi truck broke down not once but twice. Received a ticket from a bullshit DOT officer. I drove to Arizona when I was going to Luke AFB from Denver and an idiot stopped in the fast lane because she decided she missed her exit and inched her way off the freeway almost killing us all. Fuck New Mexico

Sandra DeRosia
Sandra DeRosia

I hope that with all the news stories we can reduce the amount of times this is happening because I don't even want to go on a road trip anymore. I've heard stories of people having the panels of their doors ripped out and such to look for pot that was never even there. My car isn't even paid off yet so I'm not going to risk it. I guess any summer road trips for me will be within the Colorado state borders.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... if you can't afford insurance, then take a BUS !!

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

It must be tough having a 7yo that is significantly more intelligent than you are.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Shane Thomason "My 7 year old could have came [sic] up with ..."


ShaneThomason = dumber than a 7 year old.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... prisons are full of fools who thought the way you do.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Scott McMahon "I dunno ..."


What's a "dunno" you daft illiterate dipshit?


JimTom
JimTom

@adri_padilla2002 You must look like a pot head. I drove 4000 miles last summer and never even got looked at by a cop.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... idiot. 


Rec Pot passed and took effect in Colorado in 2012.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... typical Clayton Capra, clueless stoner oblivious to reality.

shaboom86
shaboom86

@DonkeyHotay  If you can't afford insurance it's probably because some unscrupulous politician has taken kick backs to de regulate what ever business you worked in before the recession and now you have a job that pays nothing close to a humane livable wage ... true that.@DonkeyHotay 

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