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New traffic law change impacts Oregon drivers and drug cases

Drivers rights have changed when it comes to traffic stops and their interactions with law enforcement officers.

Posted: Dec 11, 2019 6:52 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2019 2:33 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Law enforcement officers are now limited to what they can talk about with a driver during a traffic stop due to a recent decision in the Oregon Supreme Court.

Sheriff Nathan Sickler from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office is not happy about this change. He says it's a poor ruling as far as law enforcement goes for traffic stops. 

If someone gets pulled over for speeding, an officer can no longer ask things like "where are you heading," "how are you doing" — and the tougher questions, like "do you have weapons or drugs in the car." These questions usually happen while someone is getting out their insurance card or when the officer is waiting for verification on a license. 

"The 'unavoidable lull' is something law enforcement has been operating on. It has been good law. It's been reinforced," said Johan Pietila. He is a Deputy District Attorney with the DA's Office. One of his cases, a conviction for meth trafficking, just got dropped on Tuesday because of the new precedent.

"It was a little over 4 pounds of meth discovered in a vehicle," said Pietila. The suspect won't have anything on his record and it will be like it never happened.

"I think it's about time," said Jen Zammetti. She is an Associate Attorney and is happy about the change. "It allowed police officers who stopped you for speeding to ask you about virtually anything."

"Just things that I think judges who sit in offices and make rulings not based on the reality of what is going on out there. It's difficult for us to adapt to, but we will," said Sheriff Sickler. He says this will now limit his deputies. "We deal with poor court decisions often and you know the deputies are resilient. We will figure a way to do our job and try to keep the public safe." 

Sheriff Sickler says these new changes have already been implemented in Jackson County. It's not something the Sheriff's Office agrees with, but he says they have to follow the laws just like everyone else.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 392197

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60432839
Washington42082398
Marion39986507
Clackamas32861382
Lane30179358
Jackson24956361
Deschutes23639185
Umatilla15135182
Linn14704179
Douglas13438292
Josephine10201246
Yamhill9787143
Klamath9072147
Polk8248102
Benton611138
Malheur592790
Coos5693107
Columbia433356
Jefferson420866
Lincoln363852
Union339255
Crook336356
Wasco317046
Clatsop262735
Baker220833
Tillamook217045
Hood River214537
Morrow197825
Curry192439
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105616
Wallowa76013
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5087907

Reported Deaths: 74561
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152858627184
San Diego4074794340
Riverside3880835358
San Bernardino3748555967
Orange3346265736
Sacramento1684922447
Kern1578751804
Fresno1568972259
Santa Clara1522681929
Alameda1252361507
San Joaquin1076041834
Ventura1040841191
Contra Costa1038691046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare861371099
San Francisco56931672
San Mateo56354629
Monterey52521626
Solano47693358
Santa Barbara47345553
Merced45086668
Sonoma43207412
Placer42204470
Imperial38516773
Kings35221362
San Luis Obispo31511360
Madera26233311
Shasta26113458
Butte25476318
Santa Cruz22268224
Yolo21590260
Marin18495249
El Dorado18325166
Sutter14577186
Napa13424105
Yuba1076389
Tehama10282130
Humboldt10183119
Nevada10029105
Mendocino857799
Lassen797656
San Benito782979
Tuolumne774691
Lake7046110
Amador578366
Siskiyou475855
Glenn457436
Calaveras442288
Del Norte376942
Colusa325921
Inyo256746
Plumas19397
Mono18924
Mariposa160718
Trinity99817
Modoc7725
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Unassigned810
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