New York State Police took a 27-year-old man into custody on Sept. 16 after a substantial quantity of illegal drugs were recovered during a search of his vehicle. Troopers say that they conducted the search after pulling the man's car over for driving erratically and noticing a substance inside the vehicle that appeared to be crack cocaine. The man is facing a felony count of drug possession with the intent to distribute and a misdemeanor drunk driving charge. He was also cited for driving without a valid driver's license.
Troopers say that they decided to pull the man over after observing his vehicle crossing hazard markings on State Route 6 in Putnam County. They claim that the man showed signs of intoxication during a roadside interview and he was later charged with driving while under the influence, but initial reports do not indicate whether he took part in any sobriety testing or provided a breath sample at the scene or later.
The search of the man's car is said to have yielded 17 bags of cocaine and 15 bags of crack cocaine. However, the weight or approximate street value of the drugs seized were not immediately available. Reports do reveal that the man was transported to the Town of Southeast for arraignment, and his bail was subsequently set at $50,000 in cash or a $100,000 bond.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides strong protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, but police officers are permitted to search vehicles in certain situations without first obtaining a search warrant. However, police officers may only conduct warrantless vehicle searches for narcotics when they have probable cause to believe that evidence of a drug crime will be uncovered or they notice drugs in plain sight. When probable cause cannot be clearly established and police officers provide contradictory accounts of events, experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have searches ruled invalid and drug charges dismissed.