Police in Texas, like many in states elsewhere are using fake “Drug Inspection Lane Ahead” signs to dupe motorist carrying contraband into telling on themselves in highway drug interdiction activities. The practice is both ingenious, and very simple. These tactics are frequently being used in Wichita and Montague counties. However, there may be others. Police will place a mobile flashing or stationary sign warning motorists of a drug inspection lane ahead just before an inviting exit, and then lurk and watch for those throwing out contraband; making a U-turn; or taking that inviting exit. Those that hold their original course of course never see any such Drug Inspection Lane. Drug inspection lanes per se where all traffic is stopped has long been held unconstitutional. Therefore no such lane could actually ever exist. But motorist carrying marijuana or drugs still fall for this ploy. The use of such signs is not in and of itself illegal. The Supreme Court has long ago held the police may use trickery or deceit to catch those engaged in criminal activity. Once a motorist is taken evasive action upon seeing the sign the police will follow them and wait for them to commit a traffic infraction which gives them a lawful basis to stop them. The infractions police frequently use to stop these motorist include crossing the grassy median, failure to signal upon taking the exit, rolling the stop sign at the exit, some equipment violation on the vehicle, and of course littering in cases were contraband is been thrown out. Merely taking the exit or other lawful evasive action alone does not give the police a reason to stop. In 2011 in a case entitled Webb v. Arbuckle, the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals approved of the practice of using fake drug inspection signs but held that the police could not stop motorist for what appeared to be taking evasive action alone and that the motorist must commit some independent traffic infraction. The Fifth Circuit said it did not matter if the drug enforcement action was real or not, as long as there was an independent legal justification for pulling the car over.
Law Offices of David SloaneBy