Justia Transportation Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal
The case involves the defendant, Kevin James Van Zanten, who was convicted for felony possession of methamphetamine and misdemeanor driving under the influence. Van Zanten challenged the conviction, arguing that the evidence was obtained unlawfully following a stop of the commercial vehicle he was driving. He claimed the stop was based on regulations adopted by the Idaho State Police, which he argued resulted from an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.In September 2020, an Idaho State Police Trooper observed a 2005 Kenworth truck driven by Van Zanten. The Trooper noted several violations, including an improperly displayed Department of Transportation number, unsecured hazardous material, and other items on the truck. The truck was stopped, and the driver was identified as Van Zanten, whose driving privileges were found to be suspended. A subsequent search of the truck resulted in the finding of drugs, leading to Van Zanten's arrest.At the trial court, Van Zanten moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the Trooper had no legal basis to stop him. He asserted that the Trooper initiated the stop to investigate state regulations that were unenforceable because the statutes authorizing those regulations unconstitutionally delegated legislative power. The district court denied his motion, leading to his appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court.The Supreme Court of the State of Idaho affirmed the district court's judgment. It held that the Trooper had reasonable suspicion to stop Van Zanten due to specific, articulable facts, thus justifying the stop. The court noted that the inherent danger associated with unsecured hazardous waste and other violations fell within the community caretaking function of law enforcement, and given the nature of the vehicle Van Zanten was driving, the public interest in safety outweighed the limited intrusion of stopping the vehicle. Consequently, the court did not need to address the constitutionality of the statutes in question. The court affirmed Van Zanten’s judgment of conviction. View "State v. Van Zanten" on Justia Law