It all started when Michigan resident Richard Houghton was driving through Wisconsin, where he was pulled over by a police officer. The reason? He apparently had an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror, and a GPS unit on his dash, which according to the police officer, were obstructing his view of the road and were thus illegal under state law. A subsequent search of the vehicle yielded a small amount of marijuana. Houghton was arrested and charged with 2 years of probation, and his car was seized under civil forfeiture laws.
Houghton tried to argue in court that the stop was illegal, and the marijuana evidence should be thrown out. The court agreed that the police can’t pull you over for having an air freshener, but said he could be pulled over for only having a rear license plate, which is legal in the state of Michigan, but not Wisconsin. His conviction was later overturned during an appeal, but Houghton won’t be getting his car back, nor will he be reimbursed in any way.
It just goes to show that in America, being proven right in court doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t go unpunished. The police can stop you for really arbitrary reasons, and once they have their way in court, the damage can be irreversible.
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .