During the morning commute on Wednesday, Feb. 6, a trooper assigned to WSP Commercial Vehicle Division (CVD) spotted a passenger motor coach committing a left lane violation while traveling southbound on I-5 near DuPont.
The motor coach was in lane 3 (the far left lane) and slowly passing other traffic. It is posted in the area “vehicles over 10,000 lbs or with trailers are prohibited from the left lane.”
The trooper stopped the bus on Center Drive just off of I-5.
When contacted, the bus driver stated he wasn’t aware of the law because he just started driving for the company. The driver produced his identification, but could not produce a log book as is required by law. A check revealed the registration on the bus was also expired and not prorated for Washington State as required. When the trooper got on the bus he was surprised to see there were only three passengers. The driver’s story became suspicious as he didn’t know much about his company or its employees. The trooper attempted to contact the company using the numbers provided by the driver with no success.
A WSP K-9 trooper responded to the location of the traffic stop, and after getting consent from the driver and the passengers, began to search the bus. The K-9 alerted its trooper handler to the baggage compartments under the bus. Two suitcases were located; the K-9 alerted on both. Two occupants on the bus came forward and admitted to owning the suitcases. Over half a pound of methamphetamine was located, along with over $2,200 in cash.
A 17-year-old passenger from Los Angeles, California, was booked into the Pierce County Juvenile Detention Facility and another 23-year-old passenger also from Los Angeles, California, was booked into Pierce County Jail. Both are being charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
The third passenger was released after troopers determined they were not involved. The bus was released to a licensed driver from another bus company, along with the driver.
In this case, a left lane violation led to felony drug arrests, and without a doubt stopped a commercial vehicle from operating when it shouldn’t have been. The WSP will continue working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on improving highway safety and ensuring safe passage for motorists and passengers.
-Washington State Patrol