Led Zeppelin Bumper Stickers Now Probable Cause For Vehicular Search In 13 States

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Issue 3521

Celebrity Killed In Mid-Air 747 Collision

LOS ANGELES—Actor Conrad Janis, best known as Pam Dawber's father on the popular television program Mork & Mindy, is believed among the deceased in a mid-air collision of two filled-to-capacity Delta Boeing 747s Monday which left no survivors. Janis, who co-starred as Fred McConnell on the ABC sitcom from 1978 to 1982, was approximately 45 miles from the Pacific Coast when the tragic accident occurred. Janis, 71, also appeared in numerous films, most recently in 1996's The Cable Guy. While a search of the ticketing database has not yet determined whether any of the other 836 passengers were celebrities, the FAA has promised a full inquiry into Janis' death.

Daddy Hitting Mommy With A Chair This Time

MURFREESBORO, TN—Noises coming from the living room indicate that Daddy is hitting Mommy with a chair this time, way-back-in-the-closet sources reported Tuesday. Use of the chair—a departure from Daddy's normal yelling, hitting and kicking routine—was attributed to the existence of all the dishes in the F-word sink, as well as various other complaints. During the incident, Daddy also raised allegations of marital infidelity, which Mommy categorically denied.

Money Continues To Pour In To Some Undesignated Far-Off Point Somewhere

FAR, FAR AWAY FROM HERE—With the U.S. economy booming for the ninth straight year, money continues to pour into some undesignated far-off point somewhere, resulting in an increased standard of living for someone or another, common logic indicates. "I heard America is experiencing the greatest period of prosperity and fiscal health since the '50s," said steel-mill worker Devin Tumbusch of Philadelphia, who has not received a raise in four years. "I don't know who's benefitting from all this financial growth, but, wherever they may be, good for them." The widespread economic stability is expected to greatly benefit a whole bunch of people whom someone else knows.

Down With The League Of Nations

This blasted League Of Nations folly is about what I'd expect from that devious bastard President Wilson, meddling in foreign affairs when he should be attending to more important matters! What about all these damned Irish and He-brews and Po-lacks who are swarming into our great Re-public and ointment! Ointment! OINTMENT!

Louis Lapham Went Way Over The Line This Time

I hope you don't mind, but I've really got to blow off a little steam after reading editor Lewis Lapham's "Notebook" column in the June issue of Harper's Magazine. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to Lapham's disregard for propriety, but this time he went way over the line. I tried to keep calm, but when I read that the magazine's new "Archive" feature was meant, as he put it, to counter the popular impression that we live in a perpetual and annihilating present that severs our kinship with the past—man, oh man, I wanted to find that guy and pop him a good one.

Area Daughter Wearing Next To Nothing

ATHENS, GA—Anger, shock, and feelings of intense awkwardness were just some of the reactions in the Helstein household Tuesday as Jeremy Helstein, 46, scolded his 17-year-old daughter Erica for allegedly wearing "next to nothing."
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Led Zeppelin Bumper Stickers Now Probable Cause For Vehicular Search In 13 States

SPRINGFIELD, IL—With the state legislature's passage of a bill last week allowing police officers to cite Led Zeppelin bumper stickers as probable cause for a vehicular search, Illinois became the 13th state to recognize classic-rock-related automobile decorations as grounds for waiver of a warrant.

"We've known for years that there was a direct correlation between the presence of a Led Zeppelin bumper sticker and the likelihood of that vehicle containing a controlled substance like marijuana," said DeKalb County Sheriff Ronald Bauer. "However, it wasn't until last Thursday that it was within our power to act on this knowledge to make a drug-possession arrest."

Illinois' action comes on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision that the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure does not require police to obtain a warrant if there is sufficient cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband.

Following the top court's ruling, a number of states, including Utah, North Carolina and Wisconsin, moved to specifically name Led Zeppelin bumper stickers as a factor in determining whether to conduct searches.

The decision, says Bauer, is supported by extensive data. Illinois state records show that in 1998, there were 362 cases in which a traffic-violation-related search of a Led Zeppelin-logo-adorned vehicle was found to contain illegal drugs or such drug paraphernalia as rolling papers, plastic baggies and metal pipes bearing a row of four cryptic symbols.

Yet before the passage of HB 1921, ill-defined definitions of probable cause have meant that an officer acting on this knowledge was entering risky legal territory.

"This is exactly what policemen have been asking for for years," said Bauer, who said the new law will precipitate a "considerable increase" in the frequency of drug-related arrests of motorists by Illinois police, especially in rural areas. "It used to be that if we spotted a car with that crazy-looking wizard on it, we had to just drive right past unless the longhairs inside were specifically doing something illegal."

Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan applauded passage of the bill.

"After the Supreme Court decision, it was just a matter of fine-tuning our interpretation of 'probable cause,'" Ryan said. "We've found that Led Zeppelin bumper stickers—or, for that matter, just the sound of "The Immigrant Song" or "Livin' Lovin' Maid" coming from an open window—is exactly the sort of smoking gun local authorities needed to establish a baseline for assessing that probable cause."

Ryan continued: "When it comes right down to it, though, prudent officers have always, to a great degree, relied on common sense. If a vehicle, especially a late-'70s American-made sedan with a vinyl top and some rust, also bears a Led Zeppelin sticker, what are the odds the driver is not in frequent possession of drugs or alcohol?"

Preliminary data seems to indicate that this logic is sound. In a Monday-afternoon field test, state troopers detained 100 Peoria-area motorists under the new Criminal Code 861.4/Section 8 (Probable Cause/ZOSO). Nearly 60 percent of the vehicles contained alcohol, drugs or drug paraphernalia, and nearly all contained suspected alcohol or drug abusers.

Rockford resident Doug Wojcek, charged Tuesday with possession of a quarter-ounce of marijuana, was among those arrested under the new law.

"I was minding my own business when some policeman pulls me over and searches my glove compartment," said Wojcek, 36. "It was just like when Robert Plant gets hassled by the cops in that one song 'Misty Mountain Hop.' Hey, what could I do?"

"This is bullshit," he added. "What about the kids with those Nine Inch Nails stickers? No one is going after them."

Despite such complaints, Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan spoke out in support of the law and advocated widening its scope.

"We might have to add provisions for the search of vehicles bearing the Pink Floyd rainbow-and-black-prism, the Blue Öyster Cult symbol, or maybe even the word Ozzy," said Gov. Ryan, noting that many other states had already made these changes. "We cannot allow this law to become discriminatory in practice. It must serve everyone equally."

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