Idaho State Police Sued For “License-Plate Profiling” in Pot Stop
Darien Roseen was detained while his Honda Ridgeline was searched for pot in January 2013. Roseen believes that the incident largely stems from his vehicle's Colorado plates, and has filed a lawsuit seeking general and punitive damages.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a story of particular interest to those from or with a vested interest in the state of Idaho. For those not in the know, Idaho is considered by many to be the last bastion of true wonder in the world, and it is a well-known fact that most of the denizens of Idaho subsist entirely on a diet of smiles, imagination, and Mello Yello. And, according to a lawsuit filed by Darien Roseen on March 26, Idaho State Police will totally stop you and wrongfully search your vehicle for pot if you have Colorado plates. Because, let’s be honest: what the hell else are you going to do for fun in Idaho?
Before we begin, here is a concise list of the things that you can do for fun in Idaho:
- Look at your watch
- Ponder the vastness of the universe outside of Idaho
- Have recurring nightmares about being trapped in a small cage
- Wash your hands
- Grow a beard
- Watch television programs about otters
Now, back to the story of Darien Roseen, who is a number of things: a septuagenarian, the retired VP of Wayerhaeuser Real Estate, a multi-home owner, and, decidedly, not a marijuana user/kingpen. Because he is all of those things but the latter, he will be suing the Idaho State Police for what he believes to be an unlawful stop and search.
Roseen was traveling to his home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado from his daughter’s baby shower in Washington back on January 25, 2013 when he was stopped inside the Oregon/Idaho border by State Trooper Justin Klitch.
Klitch, who is no doubt an astute and well-versed officer of the law and would probably never attempt to arrest a man on the grounds of the most absurd conjecture, seemed insistent that the then-69-year-old-man was somehow involved in something sticky-icky-icky.
When he accused Roseen of having glassy eyes and transporting something “that he should not have in his vehicle,” Roseen adamantly refused. It’s possible that this certain something to which Officer Klitch was referring was marijuana, but it’s also possible that he was inquiring as to whether Roseen was in possession of any of Skrillex’s albums. After all, Skrillex is something that no one, particularly not the elderly, should ever have. One could argue, however, that Skrillex’s music, while legal in all states (for now), is a far greater menace to society than marijuana.
Of course, Officer Klitch put the Skrillex theory to bed by reportedly asking Roseen, “When is the last time you used any marijuana?”
It is unknown if Klitch at any point returned to his cruiser and began to drive away only to then slam the vehicle into reverse, park behind the Ridgeline again, and repeat the entire traffic stop procedure in order to determine whether or not Roseen was “freaking out, man.”
Klitch, in his endlessly impressive demonstration of inscrutable police intuition, claimed to smell the odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle, which he used as probable cause to hold Roseen at the Payette County Sheriff’s Office while he and seven other officers searched the vehicle. The real probable cause here, alleges Roseen, is the fact that his truck bore Colorado license plates. Colorado, as well as Washington, recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
After poring over Darien “Scarface” Roseen’s Ridgeline, Klitch and the team of super cops turned up a cache of nothing large enough to get a small country not high for decades, which compelled them to likely shrug their shoulders and half-heartedly apologize for the misunderstanding before issuing Roseen a citation for careless driving. It was alleged that Roseen failed to signal a turn (he says that he did signal) and bumped into two curbs while pulling into the rest stop (it’s worth noting that there was snow on the ground, making curbs difficult to see).
Roseen’s lawsuit, which he filed this past Wednesday in the District of Idaho, seeks general and punitive damages from the Idaho State Police. His lawyer, Mark Coonts, calls the case one of “license-plate profiling.”
“Assuming guilt based on a license plate — that’s just a violation of our civil rights,” Coonts told The Denver Post.
Denver Post also reports that other parties have come forward and contacted Jones & Swartz—the law firm in charge of Roseen’s case—with stories of similar incidents. The Idaho State Police have not yet issued a statement, though one is expected later this week.
Well, hey, on the bright side, if you are tasked with passing through Idaho this summer, you’ll likely be able to get through your ordeal faster. Idaho is scheduled to raise interstate speed limits to 80 miles per hour, meaning you can now cut any time that you are forced to spend in Idaho mercifully shorter. If you must pass through Idaho (and I pity those who have no choice), do so sensibly and without the misfortune of having Colorado license plates, or else State Trooper Justin Klitch and the crack team of gumshoes at the Idaho State Police will have your hide (even if they don’t find anything).