Iowa  |  Traffic Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 7/15/13, 9:30 pm

I am a farmer with a Diesel pickup. I was pulled over by the Iowa DOT to check a load of hay I was hauling. While he had me pulled over, he asked if he could check my truck fuel tank for off road Diesel(dyed pink). I consented to the check since I do not put off road Diesel in my truck. However, I asked him what would happen if I refused to let him check my tank. HE said I would have been issues a sizable fine for refusing to allow the inspection. I mentioned I thought that seemed wrong. A person should be convicted of a crime before he is fined. He looked at me as if I was insulting him. I realized it was best to shut up and let him finish his work.

My question is, how can I be fined for failure to submit to a search of my tank? I always thought law enforcement needed probably cause to get a warrant for a search of private property. The fact that I own a diesel truck and am a farmer does not seem to rise to the level of probably cause of a crime being committed. I would think they would not even be able to get a search warrant with no more probable cause than a farmer with a diesel truck mush less a conviction of an actual crime.

If I did get a fine for refusal to search my truck for off road, could I fight it in court. Refusing a search should not serve as proof of guilt. On what grounds could they convict me since they would have no proof I had off road diesel?

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