Now that recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, many non-Colorado residents have made plans to buy marijuana on trips or vacations and bring it back home with them. Many of these individuals decide to drive across the border rather than fly, believing it will be easier to transport marijuana in this manner through the state of Nebraska. However, law enforcement is also aware of this plan and are always on the lookout for out-of-town or out-of-state traffic near the Colorado/Nebraska border. If you’re stopped on I-80, or a nearby highway, and possess any form of marijuana or if you have a loved one who has been stopped, here is what you need to know about I-80 drug cases.
Penalties of being stopped on I-80 with marijuana
The penalties for being stopped with marijuana on your person in the state of Nebraska vary depending on the form, or composition of, the marijuana; and is further dependent on the quantity in your possession. Possession of smokable forms of marijuana (aka “flower” or “bud”) that total less than one ounce is limited to a $300 fine and qualify as a misdemeanor. Possessing other forms such as hash oil, wax, shatter, or edibles, on the other hand, qualify as felonies. If you have large amounts of marijuana, this is considered possession with intent to distribute and could mean up to 50 years in prison.
Can you be defended in court if you have an I-80 drug case?
In many cases, you can be successfully defended in court if you’ve been detained on I-80 and are in possession of marijuana. Illegal stops and searches are the most common reasons for I-80 drug cases like this to be challenged in court. However, you need an experienced Nebraska criminal defense lawyer to help you and protect your rights.
It’s important to know how law enforcement works when referring to the “drug pipeline” or the I-80 corridor that leads from Colorado to Nebraska.
Law enforcement agencies are paying special attention to those who they believe may be transporting drugs through the Nebraska counties of Lincoln, Dawson, Buffalo, Hall, York, Lancaster, Seward, Polk, Perkins, Hamilton, Phelps, and Douglas. Many law enforcement agencies have received special grants for operations and use the seized drug money to further increase their efforts. What does this mean to you? It could mean they are using less than honorable methods to increase their drug bust numbers – and this could be the basis of your defense.
To legally stop a vehicle in which they believe is transporting illegal drugs, law enforcement officials must have a valid reason.
Some law enforcement officials will stop vehicles for minor traffic offenses such as illegal lane changes, following too closely, not using a blinker, or going just a mile or two above the speed limit. Others will use “ruse checkpoints” where they put up signs warning of a drug dog checkpoint ahead in the hopes that those transporting drugs will get off at the exit prior to the checkpoint where they can be stopped. Keep in mind that drug checkpoints are illegal. If stopped, you should be aware that you do not have to consent to a search. You should also be aware that any unreasonable delay of a motorist to wait for a K-9 unit is now grounds to have your case thrown out of court.
Do you believe you’ve been profiled? Do you think you were illegally detained or that your vehicle was illegally searched? If so, you have legal rights and you need to seek out an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney to defend you. Call our offices for a free consultation and to find out if you have a case.