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Traffic violation leads to trafficking charge

It may not take much to catch the attention of a police officer who is already looking to pull someone over. A small action or non-action can be all that an officer needs to turn on the lights and sirens. Motorists should be aware, however, that routine traffic stops can lead to serious charges of drug trafficking.

Recently, a man failed to use his blinker when he was switching lanes on Interstate 20. Many people have made this oversight before, but this man made the mistake at exactly the wrong time. An officer saw the violation and pulled him over. According to police reports, the officer smelled marijuana as he approached the driver's window.

The alleged scent of marijuana led the officer to conduct a search of the man's SUV. Inside, the officer found cigars and a couple prescription medications. He found a "purple liquid" which the officer had sent to a lab for analysis. He also found almost 15 pounds of marijuana.

In North Carolina, possessing more than an ounce of marijuana is a felony. Possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana is charged as drug trafficking. In this case, the man was charged with failing to signal his lane change and trafficking marijuana.

Evidence in this situation may suggest that the driver could have been wrongfully targeted by the officer. Being pulled over on an interstate for not using a blinker is not a serious violation, but for some reason this man was stopped. Additionally, it is not known if a search of the man's car was legitimate. Based on the very few details available, the validity of the search may be challenged.

Being charged with any drug offense is serious. When a person is accused of trafficking, penalties can be even more severe. In cases similar to this one, it may be beneficial to consult with an attorney to discuss options of challenging the charges.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle, "North Carolina man charged with drug trafficking after I-20 traffic stop," Jenna Martin, March 7, 2012

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