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Name: U.S. v. Colin
Case #: 01-50140
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/31/2002

Colin was the passenger in a vehicle driven by coappellant Estrada-Nava when it was stopped by a police officer for lane straddling violations (which consisted of touching the side of the lane a few times) and suspicion that the driver might be under the influence. Both appellants were nervous and shaking while the officer talked to them. Neither of the appellants owned the vehicle, and the officer suspected it might be stolen, so he questioned both of them separately. On the basis of their conflicting stories and their nervousness, the officer suspected them of drug trafficking. Both appellants consented to a search of the vehicle, which revealed marijuana and methamphetamine. After their suppression motions were denied, both appellants pleaded guilty, and this appeal followed. Here the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded. The facts support the conclusion that the officer lacked probable cause to stop appellants for lane straddling or for driving under the influence. (Notably, no field sobriety tests or even questioning about drinking occurred after the stop.) Therefore the subsequent search was unlawful.