A federal appeals court on Tuesday said police officers cannot stop and search vehicles belonging to out-of-state motorists simply because of where they reside, including states where marijuana use is legal.
By a 2-1 vote, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said two Kansas Highway Patrol officers violated the constitutional rights of Colorado motorist Peter Vasquez in December 2011 by pulling him over and searching his car after he had been driving alone at night on Interstate 70, Reuters reports.
“It is time to abandon the pretense that state citizenship is a permissible basis upon which to justify the detention and search of out-of-state motorists, and time to stop the practice of detention of motorists for nothing more than an out-of-state license plate,” Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero wrote.
“Absent a demonstrated extraordinary circumstance, the continued use of state residency as a justification for the fact of or continuation of a stop is impermissible,” he added.
The 10th Circuit decision applies in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
The case is Vasquez v Lewis et al, 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-3278