Mass. court rules police can arrest you on drugged driving charges based solely on their observation

Police in Massachusetts can still arrest people for driving under the influence of marijuana if the officer observes signs of use.



The state Supreme Judicial Court made that finding in a ruling issued Monday as more and more retail marijuana shops pop up across Massachusetts.


The ruling involved Mark J. Davis, a man who was arrested July 2015 on the Massachusetts Turnpike after he was pulled over by Massachusetts State Police.


Troopers pulled over Davis as he sped along the highway at 80 mph and tailgated other cars, the ruling states.


Davis was driving and had two people inside the car. The trooper detected a “strong odor of burnt marijuana and an odor of fresh marijuana” inside the car, according to the ruling.

Davis also smelled like pot.


A jury acquitted Davis on drugged driving and gun possession charges, but he was found guilty on a drug possession charge.


Davis appealed his arrest based on the search of his car after the arrest.

When troopers seized and searched the car, they found oxycodone, cocaine and a gun, records said.


Davis argued troopers did not have probable cause to arrest him for driving under the influence of marijuana and therefore the search of the car was not lawful.


But the SJC said the initial arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana was legit based on the trooper’s observations during the traffic stop.


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