Kansas Court Sets Precedent: Driving on Drug Corridor Cannot Be Used for Detention
Kansas court rules that driving on a drug corridor cannot be used as a factor to detain a motorist. I’m Tulsa lawyer James Wirth, that’s the topic that we have. It’s this new interesting case out of Kansas. It is with the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, case number 19-1343-KHV. And it has to deal with a traffic stop, an investigation that resulted from that, where Kansas Highway Patrol is using this what they call a Kansas two-step method for detaining drivers.
But long story short, as applicable in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Highway Patrol uses that exact same tactical, they don’t use the same name. And they also use some of these other factors in order to delay a traffic stop or to continue traffic detention so they can ask additional questions to try to establish articulable suspicion of a crime to detain further for that investigation.
So that’s kind of a long way of getting to this, but one thing that we commonly see in these cases is that they will allege that they were stopped on a, let’s see, a drug corridor, or that they were going towards a drug source or destination state or away from a drug source destination state. So what does that mean?
Understanding Law Enforcement Tactics
Well, essentially we have law enforcement that are trying to find drug traffickers so that they can take those drugs or better yet, take the money that they have and have that forfeited to the state. But in order to find out whether they can detain somebody to investigate for that, they have to establish reasonable articulable suspicion that the crime is being committed. So what information do they get together that supports whether a crime is being committed?
One that we commonly see is that, well, we’re driving on a drug corridor or to a source state or away from a source state, but we’re talking about Oklahoma Highway Patrol or in this case, Kansas Highway Patrol. They patrol the highways. Every highway, they could say, is a drug corridor and they do. Every highway is leading either to or from a drug state. So they pile up all of these things that if you look at them individually, what they actually mean, they’re completely meaningless. It doesn’t add any weight to anything. Anybody driving on the highway could be argued to be doing that.
And they stack them all together in such a way to say that, hey, this is reasonable suspicion of drug trafficking. I can detain this vehicle more. I can search this vehicle more. So we see that all the time in Oklahoma. What we don’t see is a ton of pushback from the judges here that say, no, you can’t use that as a factor. No, that’s not a factor. But we have it here from this federal judge in Kansas.
A Victory for Common Sense
And this is what it says. When Kansas Highway Patrol troopers develop reasonable suspicion with regard to a motorist on I-70, they must give no weight to the fact that a motorist is traveling towards a drug source or a drug destination state or away from a drug source or drug destination state or on a drug corridor. What the court is finding here is that is not reliable information that is indicative of drug trafficking because it could apply to anybody on the street. But it’s still language that they tried to twist to make it sound like it is meaningful in order to try to stack up all those things that are individually not meaningful to make it appear as though it’s meaningful in order to get a judge to approve the detention or warrant for arrest.
So this is being fought here in Oklahoma. It’s being fought in Kansas. But you’re seeing a victory here in Kansas for what I believe is kind of common sense to where there needs to be reliability in these things. There needs to be, if it’s a factor, then there needs to be a statistical scientific basis for it, not something that can apply to anybody.
Need Help with Criminal Defense in Oklahoma?
If you’re dealing with this circumstance or have questions about criminal defense in the state of Oklahoma, you’re gonna wanna talk to an attorney privately and confidentially about that. To get that scheduled with an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney at my office, you can go online to MakeLawEasy.com.