This week marks the eighth annual Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee. The lineup this year includes acts such as Phish, Bruce Springsteen, the Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, and David Byrne. As always, we hope everyone who is planning on attending the show has a great time and makes it to the show both safe and hassle free. Please note, law enforcement officers will be out in full force as you make your way to the show in Manchester this weekend.
Be wary of law enforcement officers requesting to search your vehicles as you make your way to the show. They may bring out their K-9 units (drug sniffing dogs) to walk around your car as well. These dogs are typically trained to sniff out drugs such as marijuana (marihuana), cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamine. If a dog is called to sniff around your car, you need to pay attention to the particular actions of the dog. You also need to record the amount of time you are held by the officer before the dog is brought to the car as well.
In 2005, the United States Supreme Court held in the case of Illinois v. Caballes that when a trained drug dog sniffs a persons automobile, there is no search. As a result, no constitutional violation occurs. This is the case even if the police have absolutely no reason to suspect you may be carrying illegal contraband whatsoever.
A dogs accuracy may be challenged in court and may be a way of proving that a search was in fact illegal. There are several decisions which have led to the suppression of evidence based on a dogs inaccuracy. Further, it can be challenged if you are held too long by the officer while he waits for the K-9 unit to arrive.
Further, always be polite when dealing with law enforcement, but be aware you always have the right to say NO when an officer asks if he can search your car. If you tell an officer no, and he searches your car anyway- you may have been the victim of an illegal search and seizure.
Also, you may be assessed under the "drug tax" or "crack tax" as it is known in Tennessee. You need to protect your rights if this is the case so that you don't lose any right to challenge the assessment or the seizure in court at a later date. The constitutionality of this drug tax is being decided by the Tennessee Supreme Court right now; but you need to take actions to preserve your right to challenge your assesment otherwise you may still be taxed even if the court finds the tax to be unconstitutional. These tax assesments can be tens of thousands of dollars at times.
Our office handles many cases from Bonnaroo each year. Dealing with both criminal charges and persons assessed under the Tennessee "drug tax" or "crack tax" and would be glad to assist you with any problems you may run into while in Middle Tennessee on the way to the show.
Please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 615-428-0100 if you get into a little trouble during your time in Tennessee. We will be glad to talk to you and see if we can help you with your problem.
Good luck and hope to see you next year.