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"Pine Tree" Air Freshener May Provide Basis for Traffic Stop in Virginia

Do you have an air freshener hanging from your rear-view mirror? If so, you may be giving law enforcement in Virginia cause to pull you over. In a recent unpublished decision, reported here by Virginia Lawyer's Weekly (subscription may be required), the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a motorist for drug possession following a traffic stop instigated by an officer after observing an air freshener of approximately three inches tall and three inches wide and shaped like a pine tree hanging from the defendant's rear view mirror.

In upholding the validity of the stop, the Court of Appeals noted that Virginia law prohibits the hanging of any object from a rear view mirror that "obstruct[s] the driver's clear view of the highway through the windshield. Along with the alleged suspected statutory violation, the Commonwealth presented evidence of a standing "be on the lookout" directive for a vehicle similar to that which the defendant was driving, which in totality provided a reasonable basis for instigating the traffic stop. 

The unpublished decision may be read here. After the stop, the record is unclear as to whether the driver was actually cited for the air freshener. 

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