Pittsburgh - A section of the
Pennsylvania Game Code that requires all people to
identify themselves to game officers upon demand is
unconstitutional, the state's highest court ruled.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed a lower court's
ruling that section 904 of the code violated the Fourth
Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches.
The highest court said the section, which allowed game officers to
stop any person at any time and demand identification
--even if no criminal wrongdoing was suspected--
was too broad to be constitutional.
Game officers must adhere to the same standards as as other law
enforcement officers, the court said, citing the need
for such officers to have a reasonable suspicion to stop
a vehicle and probable cause in order to search it.
The ruling came in the case of Don R. Ickes, an Osterburg man who
had been accused of using his ultra light aircraft to
disrupt deer hunters on the first day of buck
season in 1998. Four months later, in April
1999, two game officers came to Ickes' property to
question him and repeatedly asked Ickes to
identify himself, but he refused, according to court
Although Ickes was cleared of any wrongdoing in the
airplane case, he was cited for refusing to give the
officers identification and was fined $800.00. Ickes
challenged the code in the Court of Common Pleas, which
ruled against him. The Commonwealth Court agreed with
When the game officers came to Ickes' property there was
no crime in progress and the officers did not have a
reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, according to
the "Supreme Court's opinion.