U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Pretextual Stops, Vehicle Searches, and Crime Control: An Examination of Strategies Used on the Frontline of the War on Drugs

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Studies Volume: 24 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2011 Pages: 139-152
Michael C. Gizzi
Date Published
June 2011
14 pages
This study examined traffic stops, search and seizure law, and drug interdiction.
This study uses the narratives from affidavits for warrantless arrest from two police agencies to examine the strategy of using pretextual traffic stops for drug interdiction. Officers stop a vehicle, arrest the driver on a minor offense, and then use vehicle searches to transform minor infractions into felony drug arrests. The case study illustrates how discretion, profiling, and aggressive use of search and seizure come together. The drug convictions initiated through traffic stops were overwhelmingly discretionary and seemingly pretextual, and the arrests that led to findings of contraband were themselves discretionary and mere pretexts for conducting extensive searches of automobiles and persons. (Published Abstract)