When No means Yes in Salt Lake City (Tooele County)

Utah Highway Patrol
Utah Highway Patrol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On my wonderful road trip from Carson City to Fort Collins last week, I was pulled over by a Utah State Patrol for going 80 mph in 75 mph zone. Bad me.

The office commented that I looked nervous … was I using drugs? “No.”

Did I have drugs in my car? “No.”

Could he search my car? “No.”

OK … so he called in the K-9 Unit to come to sniff my car. The dog tore my license plate off the back of the car, scratched both doors and …

Guess what? No Drugs.

So Office #1 and Officer #2 (from the K-9 Unit) manually searched my car. Out comes the stroller, my luggage, coolers, books, baby seat, cds … everything! It was like getting in the terrorist line at the airport…minus the strip search.

Now Officer #3 pulled up to observe me as #1 & #2 searched my car.

Officer #3’s job was to watch me. Is she acting like a criminal, is she scared, is she freaking out?

Or is she perhaps ….pissed?

For some strange reason, I thought I had the right to decline a request to search my car. Does that actually apply to Utah? Does this happen other places too?

By this time Officer #4 (yes, FOUR cars were attending to my search) pulled over to shoot the breeze with the other THREE officers and ONE dog.

Nice to know that Utah Highway Patrol (in Salt Lake City) has money to blow on FOUR patrol cars  & FOUR officers and ONE dog for one speeder from Colorado.

Ummm… Did I mention that I received a Warning? Yes, all that time, money, effort and searching and they found nothing. No drug trafficking from California to Colorado. No medical marijuana. No beer. No wine. No cigarettes. No Pepsi. No caffeine.

Perhaps Officer Fawson had too much time on his hands. Or perhaps this happens all the time to out-of-state vehicles? Have you been pulled over in Utah for looking suspicious? For wearing a black hat or a tie-dyed t-shirt? For going 5 miles over the speed limit?

Was it just an accident that I got pulled over and FOUR patrol cars and ONE dog joined in the fun? Was it profiling? Was it harassment? Is it something that happens to most people traveling through? After the search, drivers like me just want to get out of Utah and never return, so our story goes unnoticed and unreported.

I learned my lesson … when you say NO to a request to have your car searched … it appears you are giving Utah State Patrol ‘probable cause’ (why else would I say NO?) to search your car.

In Utah, No really means Yes.
This ever happen to you in Utah or elsewhere? Care to share?

Power hungry and trigger happy state troopers in Tooele County, Utah!
Law enforcement in Tooele County is about intimidation. How nice… Ever wonder why there is no respect for these guys?

33 thoughts on “When No means Yes in Salt Lake City (Tooele County)

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  2. I think it was the stroller and baby seat that made me stand out and look more menacing and evil that the other speeders driving by… Geesh.
    Where was my camera when I needed it?
    …In my car … where they were eagerly searching for something … anything… which didn’t exist, of course.
    Must be nice to have so much power to throw around, time on your hands to waste, resources to spare FOUR cops and ONE dog. Nice to know Utah State Patrol is spending taxes so wisely.


  3. Deb

    Oh my!! Seriously? Well, you certainly are threatening looking and you DID have Colorado plates and my goodness talk about a major speeding violation! Not enough to do in Utah these days????


  4. You know … I was speeding. FIVE miles over the limit. Big Bad Me.

    I wonder if this is a Utah thing or if it happens all over the place. I’ve read other accounts of getting pulled over in Utah on the same sort of bogus charges which makes me think it’s something they only do on Non-Residents… or else the locals would have a fit.

    In My Humble Opinion, of course…


  5. InsideJourneys

    Wow, very interesting. Will have to be alert in Utah.
    That’s their way of intimidating people, a show of force. I don’t think they like when you show you know your rights. You have the right to say no to a search of your car. No probably cause, no search. Good for you, Marge.


  6. Yes, I learned my lesson. Next time I screw in fake Utah plates and then sail through as if I lived there. The Utah State Patrol seems to only go after out-of-state residents with this sort of harassment. Oh the woe! Love you!


  7. Yes, Marcia, that’s what I thought too — but they found their way around that law right away. Since I was ‘technically’ speeding, they treated me like a criminal. Sad thing is that they do this to more people that one can imagine. Most people just get mad then get in their car and never return. And so their story goes untold.


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  9. jimmy mercurio

    OH MY GOD! i told you all that traveling around the world would catch up to you. now my sister is a CRIMINAL! thank god mom and dad, are not around for this. ( thank god you didn’t tell them you killed our bird)
    you need to always carry your phone with you, for that ONE call your allowed.


  10. JB Law

    I filed an internal affairs complaint against UHP Trooper Shawn Patrick Alton for committing perjury by lying AND for knowingly deceiving a judge to obtain a search warrant for my vehicle.. I too, was passing through Utah on I-70 where I committed three very serious crimes…..1) I rqn out of fuel; 2) I was driving a vehicle licensed in Colorado; 3) I was driving while Hispanic. I was detained on the side of the highway for almost 4 hours before I was charged with felony possession of Lortab. Trooper Alton, who claims to be a certified drug recognition expert could not tell the difference between Lortab and hydrocodone even when the hydrocodone was found in its original prescription bottle with my name and all required information. In my experience, Utah Troopers are not very bright when it comes to understanding the US Constitution but they excel at being stupid. And UHP Commanders do what is necessary to cover up the illegal actions of their Troopers


  11. mkmercurio

    For me, once I was released I tore out of Utah with the knowledge I would never return. I think that’s what happens to all of us ‘criminals from Colorado’ instead of staying, fighting and focusing attention on the Utah State Troopers and the games they play. Like you – I was innnocent and that kept me sane. A friend commented later that they could have planted something in my car and that thought made my stomach heave. That’s what happened to you and how many others? And is there any wonder that respect for the law is non-existant?

    Thanks so much for your comments and story. — Marge —


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  13. Keegan

    Their dog might have alerted to drugs in the car, but if it did not alert to drugs and they searched and found drugs then you would get off because the search was illegal.


  14. Keegan

    And the stop was justified, 5 over. It does sound like the dog alerted to drug (scratching at the door). If there was damage done then you should of documented it while the police were on the scene and then reported it to Utah Department of Public Safety. If you did not, then it’s your loss. Sounds like the UHP did nothing illegal except maybe damage your car. I’m not a fan of UHP but I can think of worse cops (California Highway Patrol)


  15. Anonymous

    I was pulled over in central Utah for going 2 miles per hour over the limit by Alton.He pushed me out of the video angle.He attacked me while in handcuffs and deployed his tazer.He lied on stand.Do not send children to Utah or drive through Utah until they can work out there issues.All highway patrol dept. are banded together now but Utah’s policies are going beyond keeping the peace.It is simply not humane and i feel bad about the way they are made to cast cruel slavery and torture on there own people.Go around!


  16. Thanks for the update! I continue to hear nasty things about the way the Utah State troopers throw their weight around with no recourse for the citizen. Is there any wonder why there is no respect for the authorities?


  17. Byron Barker

    ‎(Tooele is spelled incorrectly.) Ms. Murcurio, I will gladly front you the cash for 4 lawsuits. One against the UHP Entity and one against each of the four officers involved for failing to protect your constitutional rights. I’ll also do all the legwork to get the dash cam (all UHP cars have cameras) via a GRAMMA request. I am a resident of Utah and the UHP main office is within 45 miles of my house.

    Then get the ACLU to file the same. You’ll easily collect over a six-figure settlement courtesy of the Utah taxpayers and all I ask for is my upfront funding back.

    Why would I do this? I’ve been continually harassed by various law-enforcement agencies in Utah, despite being a law-abiding citizen. I’ve realized the only way to get any sort of quasi-“apology” or justice is to cost those agencies money.


  18. Byron Barker

    Oh and always use this phrase (tape it to your dashboard if need to) when dealing with any law-enforcement agency:

    I’m a law-abiding citizen and believe in the constitutional. I don’t consent to searches. Do you respect that right? Am I free to go or am I being detained or arrested?


  19. Byron B

    * constitution

    As a bonus, when they say I’m free to go, I always ask them to call their supervisor out to the scene (don’t agree to speak with them by phone) just to waste both of the officers time. Then I give them some minor complaint about the state law requiring paperwork for registration and insurance when it’s clearly in the electronic system. Time = money.


  20. JB

    be advised the Cpl Alton has a pending Civil action against him in Federal Court for perjury, withholding material fact fro a judge as well as other misconduct. If he confronted you out of view of his dash cam, roughed you up and deployed his taser, I suggest you pursue his misconduct through legal channels. Check the web because the going rate for being tazed in Utah is about $40,000 and that is an out of court settlement. I would like to hear the details of what happened with Alton to support my suit against him.. thanks


  21. Byron Barker

    And again, filing complaints in Utah does ZERO good. The complaints are largely ignored by LE agencies, POST, courts and judges. The only way to get Utah LE to change is collecting cash settlements.


  22. JB

    Sorry to hear about your encounter with trooper Alton. He is a rather angry man (small penis) and is working hard to be a big fish in a small town.. His behavior will catch up to him soon.


  23. matt

    the same thing just happened to me, driving in utah with colorado plates. i was pulled over, interrogated and harassed as they searched my car and tried to convince me I was a drug trafficker from San Fran. Crazy fucking Mormons. I’ll never return to that shitty state. Officer Bronson Wood violated my rights and needs help for his paranoia. I am considering civil action.


  24. Go for it Matt! It seems they know if they target out of state people we are just happy to get home and away from them. Legal action is not something they expect. Did you see the video of them with the couple in the truck. All he kept asking was ‘what did he do wrong?” and “why was he being pulled over?” Whenever I hear the word Utah I get a sick feeling all over!


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