The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
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Guy In Ohio Arrested For Having Empty Compartment In His Car

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If there's anything around you like and don't want smashed in frustrated fury, better move it out of the way now. A man was pulled over for speeding in Lorain County, OH. No big deal there. He was then arrested for having a "hidden compartment" in his car, even though that compartment contained exactly nothing. At all.

Norman Gurley, the 30 year old who was arrested, was charged with violation of Sec. 2923.241, which states:

To enact section 2923.241 of the Revised Code to prohibit designing, building, constructing, fabricating, modifying, or altering a vehicle to create or add a hidden compartment with the intent to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance, prohibit operating, possessing, or using a vehicle with a hidden compartment with knowledge that the hidden compartment is used or intended to be used to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance, and prohibit a person who has committed a first or second degree felony violation of aggravated trafficking in drugs from operating, possessing, or using a vehicle with a hidden compartment.


Let's just be absolutely clear about the sorts of drugs and illegal substances found in the compartment in Gurley's car: None. The none kind of drugs. The kind of drugs that go by the street name "nothing" and get you so fucked up, you'd swear you'd taken no drugs at all, because you hadn't, because they don't exist. He was arrested for having

... some components inside the vehicle that did not appear to be factory.

... according to Lt. Michael Combs. Of course, this is absurd. Having a non-factory car is by no means any indicator that you're planning to do anything illegal, even a "hidden compartment." Cars are full of "hidden compartments" factory or not.


My old Beetle has a "hidden compartment" under the back seat, in the well opposite where the battery is. You could cram a nice-sized brick of coke back there. Or about six hoagies. Or you could line it with a towel and let a kitten sleep there.

My Reliant Scimitar has a hidden compartment as well, under the floor at the rear. I use it for tools, but who's to say I couldn't cram it full of ketamine-cookies or laudanum juice boxes? And If I build in an extra compartment under the spare tire in the front to hold tools, does that make me a probable drug smuggler?


This law is absurd. Cars are full of compartments, hidden or otherwise, and any of them can be filled with almost anything. Just having a volume of space that could hold something illegal is not the same as having something illegal. Are Ohio cops going to start arresting cyclists and pedestrians because they have a "hidden compartment" in their rectums that could be used to hold condoms full of meth?

As long as it's not hurting anyone (or really violating safe driving laws and all that), we should be free to modify our cars as we see fit. If that means having a bunch of handy compartments to store things, so be it. Sure, a car with hidden compartments (or, say, a trunk or spare wheel well or glove box) can be used to smuggle drugs, but I think a key criteria of arresting someone for smuggling drugs should include some drugs that they're smuggling.


Stay out of my hidden compartments, Ohio. But if you're in there, hand me that extra throttle return spring, because mine popped off again.