The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled against a man who sought to have his drug conviction thrown out because of the weather. Timothy Klinghammer was convicted of possession of marijuana, a drug tax stamp violation and carrying weapons after a traffic stop in Waterloo in January of 2008.
The officer had been following the car in the belief that Klinghammer and others inside had illegally purchased alcohol at a local liquor store. The officer wanted to run the license plate number on the car to determine the age of the driver, but said snow covered the plate and he could not read it.
He then pulled the car over and arrested Klinghammer, the driver and two other passenger after smelling and finding marijuana in the car. Klinghammer appealed, saying the officer had no probable cause to pull over the car, as it was virtually impossible to keep a license plate “clearly legible” given winter driving conditions.
The Appeals Court ruled against Klinghammer, saying they readily acknowledge that a license plate may become obstructed by such elements as snow, ice, or mud as a result of weather or road conditions. But the court says the law does not allow an exception to accommodate blowing snow, accumulating ice, or splattering mud on the plates. The law simply requires that a license plate be clearly legible at all times.