Monday, May 14, 2007

Air freshener

During a traffic stop in New Mexico a cop detected the odor of air freshener coming from within the car.

This is what he said about it.
there was an extreme odor of air freshener which is, in my past experience, a masking agent (for drugs)

Contrary to what courts seem to think, this is not a rational basis for taking any action at all, or drawing any conclusions or even suspicions.

While I have no doubt that he's correct that people with drugs in the car often use air freshener, that's just not relevant to rational thought in this case. The right questions isn't about how people with drugs behave, it's about how people behave.

No, "do most druggies use air freshener", but "do most people with air freshener possess drugs". Cops, and courts, seem to want to behave as if those two questions are the same, when they just aren't. That kind of behavior is why some of us conclude cops (and most lawyers) are just stupid. Or maybe they aren't stupid, maybe they're just evil.

Thanks to Oklahoma Criminal Defense Weekly newsletter for a pointer to this opinion.

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