An officer needs probable cause to search a vehicle, but how do they get probable cause when a car is traveling down the road and you cannot see in the windows. Ahh, see it is precisely those dark windows that provide a police officer with the right to pull a driver over. Once you open your window to hand over your driver’s license, anything that the officer observes whether through sight or smell is often used as a basis for that necessary probable cause.
A Wayne Police officer pulled over a vehicle this week on Hamburg Turnpike under the suspicion that the windows were tinted to a level that would constitute a violation in New Jersey. When the officer pulled over the vehicle, he said that he smelled the scent of raw marijuana drifting through the windows. Marijuana possession charges resulted from the search and seizure that followed.
There were two 21-year-old men riding in the car at the time. They were asked to exit the vehicle while the officer conducted a search. The officer found five small bags containing what the officer believed to be marijuana. The bags were found in a jacket pocket lying on the middle of the front seat.
The passenger said that the baggies belonged to him when the officer asked. He was immediately taken into custody and later charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams. The driver was allowed to leave the scene after the traffic stop but was received a motor vehicle citation for the tinted windows.
Source: NorthJersey.com, “Tinted window stop results in drug arrest,” Debra Winters, Feb. 15, 2012