United States v. Martinez (Wisconsin 2020) 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185943

Traffic Stop; Prolonged Detention; Reasonable Suspicion

This case involved two traffic stops. The first was in Arizona; a large GPS and radar detector was obscuring the driver’s view. Driver was very nervous and shaking and identified himself with an Illinois driver’s license. LE asked driver to take a seat in the cruiser while LE completed a warning citation. Once this was completed, LE asked if driver had anything illegal in the vehicle. Driver said no, but in response to further questioning, admitted possessing about $2,000 in the car. LE suspected driver of trafficking because 1) he was travelling on an interstate drug trafficking corridor; 2) driver’s nonsensical answers about his travels; 3) driver’s behavior; 4) driving a car he did not own and conflicting stories about who it belonged to; and 5) $2,000 in cash. Driver initially gave consent to search but when LE said he needed to wait for the PSD team, driver agreed to allow LE to search. In a hidden compartment in the spare tire storage area, LE found $77, 745 in cash.

The court held that permission was granted by driver who clearly knew he had the right to refuse and that permission was asked for immediately following the completion of the citation. Cases prior to Rodriguez v. United States (2015) 575 U.S. 348 held that the Fourth Amendment tolerated certain unrelated investigations that did not lengthen the roadside detention and this court held that Rodriguez did not overrule those cases. Therefore, the stop was not unduly prolonged by the few questions LE asked. However, even if the court found that the stop was unduly prolonged, the court held that LE had reasonable suspicion of additional wrongdoing (trafficking).

The second stop was in Wisconsin. In this situation, subject was part of a drug trafficking organization under surveillance by local LE. Subject was seen with known members of said organization and when he drove away from a location known to be a part of the organization, a traffic stop was performed for equipment and lane violations. Within moments of the stop, PSD team arrived and, during the time the original officer was filling out the citation, alerted to both sides of the vehicle. The vehicle was then taken to police department for further search when a hidden compartment was found but no contraband. The court found the traffic stop was valid and that since the sniff took place simultaneously to the citation writing, there was no prolonged detention.