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May 23, 2019

Pa. driver, pulled over for wearing headphones and then arrested for transporting heroin, has appeal denied

Alshaqah Powell, 46, of North Carolina, was driving on Interstate 81 when he was arrested back in 2015

Courts Drugs
Dauphin County Police Bureau Screenshot/Google Street View

The Dauphin County Police Bureau in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

A man who was pulled over in Dauphin County for wearing headphones, then arrested when it was revealed he was transporting bricks of heroin, had his appeal of his prison sentence denied this week.

Alshaqah Powell, 46, of North Carolina was driving on Interstate 81 in November 2015 when a state trooper pulled Powell over because he was wearing headphones while driving, according to PennLive.

In Pennsylvania, wearing headphones over at least one ear while driving on a public road is illegal.

When the state trooper asked to inspect Powell's vehicle, after learning Powell didn't have a driver's license, the trooper discovered bricks of heroin in the trunk of the vehicle.

Powell had two previous heroin possession convictions in New Jersey, according to PennLive, which U.S. Court of Appeals Judge D. Michael Fisher said qualified him as a "career criminal" and justified Powell's 15 1/2 year prison sentence.

Fisher also pointed to the use of the headphones, Powell's lack of a driver's license, and Powell's behavior during the stop as the trooper "promptly investigating his suspicions". 

Powell claimed the trooper had no justification in pulling him over, and that the trooper unnecessarily prolonged the traffic stop. Powell had hoped the judge would toss out the evidence found by the trooper.

Fisher noted the trooper also claimed he smelled marijuana coming from Powell's car.

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