Three Massachusetts residents were handed criminal charges after a traffic stop on Jan. 31, according to a report from the Massachusetts State Police. The incident occurred while the three individuals were traveling southbound along Route 395 in Oxford. A Sturbridge barracks trooper stopped the vehicle at about 9:15 p.m. after noticing that one of its taillights had gone out.

The 25-year-old driver of the vehicle was allegedly found to be driving without a valid license. When the trooper inspected the vehicle, drugs were allegedly found inside. A 34-year-old passenger sitting in the backseat of the car was also allegedly found with a significant quantity of cocaine in his possession. As a result of the trooper’s discoveries, the driver was charged with Class B narcotics drug possession and the back seat passenger was handed a charge for trafficking cocaine. The driver was also cited for defective equipment.

A 24-year-old passenger who was sitting in the front seat of the vehicle received a citation for not wearing a seat belt. He was also taken into custody for two outstanding warrants. All three of the accused men were arraigned on Feb. 2 at Worcester District Court.

Authorities cannot stop a vehicle and conduct a search and seizure unless they first obtain probable cause. Although a broken taillight might have given a trooper reason to conduct a traffic stop, a criminal defense attorney may be able to argue that the trooper had no probable cause to search the car for drugs. If a judge determines that items from a vehicle were seized unlawfully, the evidence may not be admissible in court.

Source: NECN, “3 arrested by state police following traffic stop”, Feb. 1, 2015