Today a St. Louis court heard arguments on whether it is constitutional for troopers to pull over and search commercial vehicles without probable cause.
A federal appeals panel in St. Louis is considering a lawsuit that would bar warrantless searches and seizures of commercial vehicles on the basis that such searches violate the Fourth Amendment. The suit names Governor Jay Nixon, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, and Highway Patrol superintendent Bret Johnson.
Truck Driver Charged For Refusing To Consent To Commercial Vehicle Inspection
Truck driver and rancher Ron Calzone filed the lawsuit against the commercial vehicle inspection law after a 2013 incident involving a Missouri State Trooper. Calzone was driving a dump truck on his ranch en route to get livestock feed when he was pulled over by a state trooper. Calzone refused to submit to a commercial vehicle inspection because he said that he had done nothing wrong. Calzone says that the trooper told him that Missouri state law grants troopers the authority to stop, inspect, and search any commercial vehicle.
Calzone was issued a misdemeanor charge for refusing the consent to the inspection. The police report indicated that the trooper hadn’t spotted any violation. The charge against Calzone was later dropped.
Said Calzone’s attorney Dave Roland, “The statute expressly says that they can pull you over randomly, with or without probable cause to believe that you’re in violation of any law at all.”
Court To Consider Whether Statute Violates Constitution
Calzone stated that he believed the trooper’s actions violated his Fourth Amendment rights: “So this was the very definition of an unreasonable search and seizure, and I knew that if citizens fail to stand up for their constitutional rights, they will wake up one day to find they no longer have any rights.”
Calzone is also a leader of the organization Missouri First, which advocates for limited government.