Legal Question in Traffic Law in Iowa

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?

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

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert Luedeman solo practitioner
0 users found helpful
0 attorneys agreed

You pose an interesting question and there's no well developed body of law on the subject.

Iowa Code section 452A62(2)(b) empowers the DOT to examine the storage tanks of any person who possesses fuel upon which tax has not been paid.

My guess is that what you would be faced with would be a civil penalty if you were in violation-and of course, no end of trouble with the Department of Revenue.

Bear in mind that this is a civil matter, not a criminal one, so the usual rules concerning the probable cause and warrant requirements are not up to the usual standard.

I have not found a case where this exact issue has come up.

452A.62 INSPECTION OF RECORDS.

The department of revenue or the state department of

transportation, whichever is applicable, is hereby given the

authority within the time prescribed for keeping records to do the

following:

1. To examine, during the usual business hours of the day, the

records, books, papers, receipts, invoices, storage tanks, and any

other equipment of any of the following:

a. A distributor, supplier, restrictive supplier, importer,

exporter, blender, terminal operator, nonterminal storage facility,

common carrier, or contract carrier, pertaining to motor fuel or

undyed special fuel withdrawn from a terminal or a nonterminal

storage facility, or brought into this state.

b. A licensed compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum

gas dealer, user, or person supplying compressed natural gas or

liquefied petroleum gas to a licensed compressed natural gas or

liquefied petroleum gas dealer or user.

c. An interstate operator of motor vehicles to verify the

truth and accuracy of any statement, report, or return, or to

ascertain whether or not the taxes imposed by this chapter have been

paid.

d. Any person selling fuels that can be used for highway use.

2. To examine the records, books, papers, receipts, and invoices

of any distributor, supplier, restrictive supplier, importer,

blender, exporter, terminal operator, nonterminal storage facility,

licensed compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas dealer or

user, or any other person who possesses fuel upon which the tax has

not been paid to determine financial responsibility for the payment

of the taxes imposed by this chapter.

If a person under this section refuses access to pertinent

records, books, papers, receipts, invoices, storage tanks, or any

other equipment, the appropriate state agency shall certify the names

and facts to any court of competent jurisdiction, and the court shall

enter an order to enforce this chapter.

Read more
7/16/13, 9:22 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Traffic Law questions and answers in Iowa

Looking for something else?

Get Free Legal Advice

88263 active attorneys ready to answer your legal questions today.

Find a Legal Form

Browse and download our attorney-prepared and up-to-date legal forms from $4.99

Find a Form

Featured Attorneys

Anthony RoachLaw Office of Anthony A. RoachChatsworth, CA
Timothy McCormickLibris Solutions - Dispute Resolution ServicesSan Francisco, CA
Michael E. HendricksonAttorney & Counsellor at LawAlexandria,
Find An Attorney

Are you an Attorney?

Earn additional revenue and grow your business. Join LawGuru Now