4/20 “Marijuana Day” Celebrators Beware

For those of you who may not know, today is April 20th (“4/20“). To a lot of people 4/20 is just another day but to others it is a day dedicated to the celebration of Marijuana and its use. Due to the widespread recognition of 4/20 and the fact that Marijuana is illegal in most states, including Indiana, law enforcement agencies across the United States utilize this day as an opportunity to make drug related arrests.

At a local level, the Indiana State Police, Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Porter County Sheriff’s Department, and municipal law enforcement will all be out in full force and effect with one particular goal in mind; to make drug related arrests.  So how might this increased police enforcement affect you?

To begin, every motorist is a potential target for law enforcement whether they have a history of drug use or not. Lake and Porter County Law Enforcement will be on the look out for any reason to pull over a motorist whether it be for speeding, failure to signal, driving left of center, driving while suspended, or any other Indiana traffic violation.  Even if the motorist isn’t under the influence of any drugs or alcohol and assuming there are no  drugs or paraphernalia in the vehicle, the motorist is still potentially facing a traffic citation, due to the increase in patrol by law enforcement, which can ultimately affect their Indiana Driver Record and possibly raise their insurance rates.

Now lets move to the worst case scenario.  If there are alleged drugs or paraphernalia in the vehicle or if the motorist is allegedly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, law enforcement will utilize the traffic stop as a reason to make direct contact with the motorist. Now that the motorist is stopped, law enforcement will attempt to “dig up” some evidence of a drug or alcohol related crime.

Having personally reviewed countless probable cause affidavits, the law enforcement officer is likely to allege something to the effect of “as I approached the vehicle I smelled a (strong/moderate) odor of intoxicants” or “as I approached the vehicle I smelled what I recognized from my training and experience (as opposed to personal experience) to be Marijuana.” Additionally, it is not uncommon for a law enforcement officer to ask the motorist if there are any drugs or alcohol in the car and, unfortunately, many motorists will inadvertently incriminate themselves due to nervousness coupled with a mistaken belief that honesty and cooperation will somehow save them from being arrested and prosecuted.

Utilizing the foregoing allegations, law enforcement officials may then proceed to ask the motorist to submit to a portable breath test, standard field sobriety tests (which I often personally refer to as “road side agility tests” due to the fact that many people can’t pass them even when sober), and can even go so far as to search  the motorists vehicle in the hopes of finding drugs or other purported contraband. What started as a “routine” traffic stop can now lead to felony and/or misdemeanor charges such as Dealing in a Controlled Substance, Dealing Marijuana, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Marijuana, and Operating while Intoxicated (alcohol and substance based).

The impact that any one of these charges can have on your life is significant. You may be forced to miss work, lose your job/career, be incarcerated for a significant period of time, and/or be stereo-typed by family, friends, and co-workers. For these reasons it is important that if you or someone you care about has been issued a traffic citation or arrested on drug related charges that they contact an experienced and knowledgeable Lake County Indiana Criminal Defense Attorney or Porter County Criminal Defense Attorney.

Attorney Michael A. Campbell of  SFT Lawyers specializes in representing criminal defendants in Lake County and Porter County Indiana in all aspects of the criminal justice process ranging from initial charges to post conviction relief such as Expungementsrecord sealings, Specialized Driving Privileges (formerly “Hardship Licenses”), and erasing past traffic violations.  Attorney Michael A. Campbell has the experience necessary to defend and protect your legal rights.  CALL TODAY (219-841-5683) or contact Attorney Michael A. Campbell via our firm’s CONTACT US PAGE for a FREE CONSULTATION.

*This article is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or to establish an attorney-client relationship.