Police in Maryland have reported that a 39-year-old man was taken into custody on drug charges on the afternoon of Nov. 6 following a pursuit in Somerset County. The sequence of events began when officers attempted to pull over a Honda Civic sedan for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle at approximately 4:06 p.m.
Instead of pulling over, officers say that the sedan proceeded south toward Princess Anne on U.S. Route 13. The pursuit came to an end when the sedan pulled over after making a U-turn at the Linden Avenue exit. Officers claim to have observed the driver throwing a can out of the window and into the Manokin River in the vicinity of Deal Island Road. Reports indicate that a Red Bull can thought to have been tossed by the driver was later recovered from the river.
Police say that the man's behavior gave them probable cause to believe that his vehicle contained evidence of a crime, and undisclosed quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin are said to have been discovered during a subsequent search. An additional amount of crack cocaine was found in the discarded Red Bull can according to reports. The man is facing charges of drug possession, drug possession with the intent to distribute, drug possession with the intent to distribute in a school zone and a raft of motor vehicle violations.
The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure, but police officers are permitted to conduct warrantless vehicle searches when they can show that they had probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal activity would be discovered. Cases involving drug charges often hinge on evidence recovered during premises or vehicle searches, and experienced criminal defense attorneys may urge their clients to avoid behavior, such as fleeing, that could give law enforcement the probable cause they need to conduct warrantless searches.