A sharply divided Maine Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that wardens don’t need a reason to stop operators of all-terrain vehicles, a finding that the Maine Civil Liberties Union believes strikes a blow to the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. But the ruling may have only limited impact, since it comes just a month before a new Maine law on ATV enforcement takes effect.
The case was brought on appeal by Brent McKeen, an ATV operator who, in August of 2007, was stopped by a Maine game warden on an abandoned rail bed in Mars Hill, and subsequently charged with operating under the influence. McKeen successfuly supressed evidence obtained during the stop, on grounds that the warden violated his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. That Superior Court decision was then appealed to the Law Court, which has now issued its 4-3 ruling in favor of the state.
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