Are Colorado Drivers Victims of License Plate Profiling?

Did you know that when you are driving your car, an officer of the law needs to have “reasonable suspicion” that you have committed a crime or traffic violation before they can pull you over?  This didn’t seem to be the case in one couple’s recent encounter with a violation of rights that has been deemed “license plate profiling.”  KRDO told their story in this recent report.


Why are Colorado residents being profiled?

With Colorado’s new marijuana law, several Colorado residents say they have been pulled over in other states simply because of their Colorado tags.  If this happens to you, it is a violation of your rights.  It is invasive and you are not obligated to allow a search of your vehicle or answer questions that do not pertain to “reasonable cause” for pulling you over.

Officers in other states have searched Colorado vehicles without “reasonable cause”, asked those drivers and passengers if they carry medical marijuana cards, and held short interrogations in the officer’s vehicle.  This all seems to stem from Colorado’s new marijuana law.  These appear to be efforts, by officers in other states, to raise money and make life miserable for Colorado drivers.

Protect yourself against profiling

McDivitt urges Colorado residents to carry a copy of their rights in the glove box of their vehicle and remember that if an officer of the law does not have “reasonable suspicion” of misconduct or a traffic violation, they are not authorized to target you because of Colorado’s new marijuana law.  It is your right, if you are pulled over and feel targeted, to refuse the search of your vehicle if the officer does not have “reasonable cause”.  Here are some other things to keep in mind if you’ve been pulled over:

  • Make as little eye contact with the officer as possible
  • Only answer the precise questions asked of you and give the minimum information necessary to answer that question.
  • Remember, at all times, be very polite and non-combative, but do not say anything unless asked a direct question and then answer as little as possible.
  • If the officer asks questions about the use of marijuana or carrying a marijuana card, you do not have to answer and this could be grounds for a legal claim against the officer.
  • While remaining tactful and courteous, tell the officer you have no obligation to answer that question as it is irrelevant to his or her stated reason for the stop.

Know your rights

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, outlines your rights and your responsibilities if you are stopped by the police, immigration agents or the FBI.  You can view them here.

About McDivitt Law Firm

McDivitt Law Firm is a Colorado-based law firm that has been providing legal representation to injured victims and their families throughout the state of Colorado for the past 40 years. Founded by Mike and Karen McDivitt, McDivitt Law Firm has an experienced team of lawyers, paralegals, and support staff who provide their clients with caring and thorough legal service. Visit to learn more.

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