Photo/Story Gallery 2006

Caught in the Act

Confiscated marijuanaIn the middle of a traffic stop a driver with no license thought changing places with his passenger would get him out of a ticket. Not only did that “not” work, it made matters worse.

Recently, in Lake County, Florida, Corporal Larry Thomas watched as a driver ran a red light. He followed the vehicle for a short distance before activating his blue lights for the vehicle to stop and then observed the male driver and female passenger swap seating positions. The female driver then pulled into a dead-end roadway and stopped.

Corporal Thomas asked the passenger, who had swapped positions, for his driver license. The subject wasn’t able to produce a driver license or identification. Further investigation determined his true identity and that his driver’s license was suspended as a habitual traffic violator in 2002. The female that had taken the driver’s seat had knowledge that the subject should not have been driving. Trooper Chris Thompson arrived on scene as back-up, and began interviewing the two suspects.

Corporal Thomas observed several indicators of criminal behavior. When asked if there was anything illegal in the vehicle, the female responded that if anything was in the car it was not hers. The male responded that if there were any drugs in the car it belonged to his friend that had just gotten out of the car. The troopers could smell a strong distinct odor of marijuana coming out of the vehicle’s passenger area. A black garbage bag with eight pounds of marijuana was found in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

The driver and passenger were arrested and transported to the Lake County jail, charged with possession of marijuana. The female was charged with allowing a person to drive without a driver’s license, reckless driving, and not wearing her seatbelt. The male was charged with running a red light, habitual traffic violator, reckless driving, no seatbelt, and obstruction. He had 11 prior arrests in Lake County. The vehicle was seized.