St. Louis Court Debates Probable Cause in Traffic Stops

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A federal appeals panel in St. Louis hears arguments this morning on whether police can pull over some types of vehicles in Missouri without probable cause.

A Missouri State Trooper pulled over a farm truck in Phelps County in 2013 because he didn’t recognize the truck and wanted to inspect it. The driver, Ron Calzone, refused to submit to a commercial motor vehicle inspection, and his attorney Dave Roland is challenging a state law that allows searches of commercial vehicles without probable cause.

“The statute expressly says that they can pull you over randomly, with or without probable cause to believe that you’re in violation of any law at all,” Roland says.

Roland says the law is so loosely worded that eventually police could start pulling over sedans for searches if they believe they are involved in some commercial enterprise.

“Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, all of a sudden there’s that suggestion. The cops could fabricate some reason to hold you by the side of the road,” he says.

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