Traffic Stop + Drugs = Arrest

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It goes without saying, but one of the primary ways law enforcement peers into the lives of drug users is by making traffic stops on the cars they drive.

This weekend’s police reports included a number of stops, and situations in which Kitsap cops found a garden variety of street drugs: heroin, marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy.

Most of the time, drugs are found after a search of a car. All an officer needs to search a car is a reasonable suspicion a crime has been committed (many times, that crime is a suspended license).

Here’s a synopsis of the traffic stops from the weekend that turned up drugs, according to various agencies’ police reports:


* On the evening of Nov. 2, a Port Orchard Police officer was alerted to a car parked near the Port Orchard marina. Two men were inside the car and one of them the officer found to have two warrants for DUI. The officer searched the car and found marijuana and a bottle with ecstasy and other painkillers. Both men were taken to jail.

* Also on the the evening of Nov. 2, a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a car traveling north on Highway 3 near Highway 305, because the driver had a suspended license. A search of the car by a police dog and officers revealed syringes with a “pink-red” liquid in them, as well as a “white crystalline substance,” in a ziplock bag, both of which were later confirmed to be meth. Straws for snorting meth were also found. One of the passengers inside admitted it was his, and was taken to jail.

* On the early evening of Nov. 4, a state trooper was monitoring traffic on Highway 16 when a car came by going 69 in the 60 mph zone. He pulled the car over and the driver didn’t have a license. A search of the car revealed a baggie with about an ounce and a half of marijuana that the driver had recently purchased. He was arrested and taken to Kitsap County jail, and ultimately charged with felony possession of marijuana (anything under 40 grams is a misdemeanor).

* In the early morning hours of Nov. 3, a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy spotted a car at the waterfront park boat launch in Old Town Silverdale. He woke two people inside who were sleeping. He found out one of the two people had warrants for driving with a suspended license. A search of his coat found cocaine. The man said he was a “party user” and hadn’t used it in six months. He too was taken to jail.

And, here’s one more, though not directly a traffic stop:

* On the morning of Nov. 4, a Washington State trooper patrolling Highway 3 at Highway 310 spotted a panhandler. She pulled to the side of the road to talk to him, and told him it was illegal to ask motorists for money. The man had warrants for his arrest — a parole warrant and one for driving with a suspended license — and was searched. The search revealed a needle and “five separate globs of brown sticky substance,” that was confirmed to be heroin. The man said he takes heroin for a back injury that he once took prescription painkillers for (remember, many painkillers are opiates just as heroin is). The man said he mostly “shoots up,” but also “chases the dragon,” which the trooper said meant smoking it. He was taken to the Kitsap County jail.

A Quick Sidenote

Mostly absent of this weekend’s reports were residents found with prescription drugs (e.g. painkillers like Oxycontin). I think we’re seeing — locally as well as nationally — an increase in the amount of people arrested for possession of prescription drugs.

Why? For one, the drug war against meth has seen successes (notice how rare and unusual our story about the man whose meth lab blew up?). And secondly, I think there’s a belief that prescription drugs, unlike street drugs, are safe and non-addictive because they’re regulated by the government.

That, however, couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s an issue I’m going to delve into further, so I’d love to hear your comments about it.

3 thoughts on “Traffic Stop + Drugs = Arrest

  1. Josh,

    Remember that in criminal law, acts or activities are illegal because laws say they are. Many substances, including alcoholic beverages, tobacco and various narcotics/pain medications are controlled substances because the government regulates their prescription or sale.

    Usually because they are addictive or have long term adverse affects if abused.

    The government and the RCW list drugs and narcotics in Schedules. Schedule I substances have no medicinal value or are unsafe and are strictly regulated/prohibited. Schedules II-V are regulated for medicinal use because they have a high or moderate potential for abuse. See RCW 69.50.

    Also, because some medicines and narcotics are synthetic chemical compounds, they may have synergistic affects that manifest themselves several months or years later, if misused or abused.

    In my small corner of the criminal justice field, I rarely see prescription drug abuse. I mostly see marijuana, a Schedule I substance followed by cocaine, a Schedule II substance. Someone at the superior court level would see more of the chemical Schedule II-V drugs and it would be interesting to know the amount or percentage of cases.

  2. Your story makes sense, drive and illegally use drugs and you are going to be busted. I am a person with chronic pain and take opiates legally. I have never been pulled over or had a ticket for DUI or any kind of suspicious activity.
    I work 50-60 hours a week and pay taxes. I volunteer workfor many different organizations and have no criminal charges or even stops on my record.
    Please don’t lump everyone who uses opiates for pain as some type of addict. >We aren’t. There is a big difference between dependance and addiction. Anyone who uses opitates for more than a month will probably develop a dependance which is a huge difference than a addiction. I guess the difference being is I would never do anything illegal to obtain drugs.

  3. I’ve lived with chronic back pain from a disintegrating disk over 50 years. No pain pills, no medical treatment… ongoing exercise built up my back and body muscles and supported my back all these years…as I see it.
    Within the past week I watched an interview from a woman who has lived with pain most of her life…until it reached the point her quality of life was almost gone.
    She enrolled in a pain management clinic where she lived for three weeks or so learning how to handle – to manage – her pain.
    Apparently pain management really does allow a person to make their pain livable without drugs.

    …”…Pain management is a branch of medicine that applies science to the reduction of pain. It covers a wide spectrum of conditions including neuropathic pain, sciatica, postoperative pain and more….”
    http://backandneck.about.com/od/chronicpainconditions/f/painmanagement.htm
    Sharon O’Hara

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