Colorado Retiree Searched For Marijuana Sues Idaho State Police For 'License Plate Profiling'

Robert Jonathan

A Colorado man has filed a lawsuit against the Idaho State Police in federal court for what his attorney is calling license plate profiling.

Retired executive Darien Roseen, then 69, was stopped in January 2013 on his way home from his daughter's baby shower and allegedly accused of pot possession.

In the November 2012 election, Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana; the law at that time of the traffic stop had yet to be implemented, although medical marijuana was legal in the state.

According to the allegations, a state trooper followed Roseen to a rest area where the motorist pulled over to use the bathroom. "[The Trooper] did not initially give Roseen a reason for contacting him, but eventually said that Roseen failed to signal before he exited and that he bumped into two curbs at the rest stop." The trooper then asked Roseen why his eyes seemed glassy and ask him if he was transporting anything inappropriate. Roseen told the trooper he had prescription meds with him, at which point the officer asked him about the last time he smoked marijuana.

"[Roseen] was offended by his treatment -- assuming that not only was he a user but that he was carrying marijuana into Idaho just based on the fact that he has Colorado license plates," his lawyer maintains.

Roseen initially denied the officer permission to search the vehicle, a Honda Ridgeline truck, but finally gave in to get the ordeal over with. The trooper then claimed to smell the odor of pot from the trunk which Roseen denied. At that point, the trooper called in other officers to give the vehicle which was seized a thorough search. No weed was found, and Roseen was merely cited for careless/inattentive driving.

According to the allegations contained in the legal papers, "At no point did Trooper Klitch's line of questioning relate to Mr. Roseen's alleged improper driving pattern. Instead, Trooper Klitch immediately accused Mr. Roseen of transporting something illegal. Trooper Klitch lacked sufficient probable cause to shift the primary purpose of the stop from a traffic stop to a narcotics investigation,"

The lawsuit filed last Wednesday in US District Court for Idaho alleges violations of the motorist's Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights and seeks punitive damages for these alleged constitutional violations. Roseen's attorney insists that his client "was stopped in Idaho and deprived of his constitutional rights because he was driving a car with a license plate from a state that ISP associated with marijuana."

The Idaho State Police has yet to issue a formal statement in response to the so-called license plate profiling litigation.

[Image credit: Dave Conner]