Out-of-state license plates don't justify search

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Photo: / MGN(KNOE)
Published: Aug. 23, 2016 at 2:59 PM CDT
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A federal appeals court says law enforcement officials in Kansas cannot stop and search motorists for having nothing more than out-of-state license plates from states that have legalized marijuana.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday says the officer's reasoning would justify the search of citizens from more than half of the states in the country.

The court reinstated the lawsuit filed by a Colorado motorist against two Kansas Highway Patrol officers who stopped and searched his vehicle while he was driving alone at night on I-70 in Kansas.

It found the officers violated Peter Vasquez's Fourth Amendment rights in searching his car.

Twenty-five states permit marijuana use for medicinal purposes, with Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C. permitting some recreational use under state law.

The Kansas Highway Patrol issued a response to the ruling that says in part: In part:

"Officers consider many factors when determining the reasonable suspicion necessary to detain a vehicle or its occupants for the purpose of furthering an investigation. It is the Patrol's practicing philosophy that neither vehicle registration plates, nor the home state of the driver are indicative of criminial activity in and of itself."

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