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Idaho Supreme Court: Vehicle registration rule is too vague

The Idaho Supreme Court has overturned a woman’s felony drug conviction because the law the police officer used to make the traffic stop that led to her arrest is unconstitutionally vague.

The Idaho Press reports Samantha Nicole Cook was pulled over after a Kootenai County sheriff’s deputy saw her vehicle didn’t have license plates. As she was stopping, the deputy saw a temporary registration permit was in the rear window, but he couldn’t’ read it until he wiped away the condensation from rain on the outside of the car. During the traffic stop the deputy believed he smelled marijuana, and prosecutors said methamphetamine and heroin were found in a search of the vehicle.

The unanimous Idaho Supreme Court found the temporary registration permit law is unconstitutionally vague, because it states the permits must be displayed so they are readily legible, but doesn’t include any instruction on how motorists can meet that standard.

Because the traffic stop was based on an unconstitutional law, the high court said Cook’s motion to suppress the evidence from the search should have been granted at her trial.

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