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Spokane man says ISP profiled him for Washington plates, suggested he had drugs

A Spokane man says he was pulled over by the Idaho State Police on I-84 just inside the Idaho state line last summer, and accused of having marijuana solely because he had Washington license plates and had his car windows open. “At that point, my jaw just dropped,” said Paul Dungan, 58. “I said ‘No.’ I told him, ‘This is the way I cruise in the summer time … so I don’t fall asleep.’ … He said, ‘I want to search your car,’ and I said, ‘No, you have no right to search my car.’”

Dungan said after nearly an hour of “haranguing me … he finally backed off.” Dungan wasn’t cited for anything; he hadn’t been accused of any traffic offenses. “I was definitely profiled,” he said. “I’m a 58-year-old white guy, and I haven’t ever been profiled, even when I was a young teenager in southern California raising hell-type stuff. What a horrible feeling.”

The Idaho State Police could find no record of Dungan’s stop. “I’m not saying that he’s lying at all – we just can’t find it,” said Teresa Baker, ISP spokeswoman. She said the agency conducts numerous traffic stops that in the past year have yielded big drug seizures – 720 pounds of marijuana, 59 pounds of methamphetamine and 30 pounds of cocaine, just in 2013. “There are a lot of drugs coming into the state from other states, whether it’s Oregon, Washington, Nevada, up through Utah, Montana,” she said. “We are constantly patrolling the highways looking for criminal activity. … If someone breaks a traffic law, no matter how minor someone might think the traffic law is, they can be stopped.”

Dungan’s story follows the release this week of ISP’s video of a traffic stop in January of 2013 in which a Colorado man charges he was targeted because of his Colorado license plates, detained at the same rest area, and his vehicle taken to a nearby jail and searched before he was let go after nothing illegal was found. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana; Idaho hasn’t. In addition, Idaho is nearly surrounded by states that permit the use of medical marijuana, which Idaho strictly forbids. Darien Roseen of Pagosa Springs, Colo. has filed a federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police over his stop, saying his constitutional rights were violated and he was profiled on the basis of his license plate.

“I’m sure we’re not the only two guys that are in the states now that have legalized marijuana that those guys are harassing down there,” Dungan said. “I find it really annoying. I’ll never drive through that area again. If I’m going down to the Boise area, I’m going down through McCall and Banks and take the scenic route and through.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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