ST. LOUIS – If the U.S. Supreme Court decides not to weigh in, then any motorized vehicle that might have even a marginal “commercial use” could be pulled over and searched by the Missouri Highway Patrol without probable cause.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rendered that decision and the defendant, businessman and farmer Ron Calzone, has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The state trooper who stopped him not only did not have any probable cause to believe (Calzone) did anything wrong, but he also had unlimited discretion as to which commercial vehicles he was going to stop,” an attorney for Calzone, David Roland, said. “The definition of ‘commercial vehicle’ in Missouri is incredibly broad. … A lot of people driving compact and economy-class cars could be driving commercial vehicles and they don’t even know it. … Which is nuts, but that’s the ruling.”
Roland is a lawyer with the Institute for Free Speech, which supports Calzone’s legal case.
The trooper did not find that Calzone, from Dixon in Maries County, did anything wrong. Calzone had his truck inspected earlier that day.
“I was on my way toward Rolla on Highway 63 to get gravel for my daughter’s chicken coop,” he said.
A highway patrolman saw, but did not recognize, Calzone’s truck and for that reason alone decided to stop and inspect the truck. A Missouri statute allows such inspections. Calzone said the statute violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
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