Just about the only thing they can't pull you over for is a dirty car, which for me is a particularly good thing.
So my friend Doughbri told me the other day about a study that some smart statistician folks did about everyone's favorite Chicago road: Lake Shore Drive. (Side note: for those of you who don't live in Chicago, this road is such an integral part of the city that there is a radio station named after it. Take that, Park Avenue!) Apparently, this study found that 90% of cars traveling on the Drive violate some sort of traffic law. Mostly, they speed. For whatever reason, the Drive has a speed limit of 45 miles per hour, despite it's wide open lanes, gentle curves, lack of stoplights, and sweeping views of Lake Michigan which all just beg for speed. Average speed is, I'd say, around 64. So most cars are speeding. Occasionally someone drifts over a lane dividing line, or drifts over the fog line (did you know that's what that line on the right side of the road is called? Me neither!), or talks on a cell phone without a handsfree device. You know, real criminal stuff. Pseudostoops, you say, this is boring as hell! Get to the point! Okay, fine. Doughbri and I were teaching our Streetlaw class when this 90% figure came up. We were teaching our kids about searches and seizures, and they wanted to know when the cops have the right to search your car. We told them: any time there's a violation, they can place you under arrest (put you in those attractive handcuffs and sit your ass on the curb) while they search your trunk for drugs. Travel a few miles per hour over the limit? They can search you. Fog line violation? Just say search. Cell phone handsfree device scofflaw? Prepare to turn over the weed under the front seat, brother. One kid, who catches on faster than most, said "I bet if the cops want to search your car, they'll jsut pull you over for something stupid and then use that as an excuse to search your car." Well, in a word: yes. Here's what positively floored me: Doughbri, who is taking criminal procedure (I knew I should have taken that instead of corporations!) then told us that the Supreme Court has held that the police can have probable cause to pull you over and search your car if you are driving TOO CAREFULLY. Seems that in South Dakota, (also known as "a state that people have to drive through to transport drugs from California to Chicago,") the police keep on the lookout for cars driving "carefully within the speed limit to avoid drawing attention to themselves," and then pull over those cars to search for drugs. So, to summarize: the 90% of cars on the Drive that violate some sort of law should be mentally prepared to be pulled over and have their car searched. The 10% of cars that do not violate some sort of law should also take note: all that law-abiding isn't fooling anyone, missy! You should be ready to be pulled over too. I am deeply discomforted.