Challenge the Stop to Beat the Charge

published by Andrew Flusche on February 15, 2011

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Most traffic cases involve a stop of a moving motor vehicle. In cases such as DUI / DWI and driving on a suspended license, the stop itself is critical to the government’s case against you.

I’ll save you from the technical legal points. Here’s the gist: The U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. A traffic stop is a seizure. Thus, to be lawful, the stop has to be reasonable.

Why does that matter? Any evidence obtained from an illegal stop can be kept out of your trial. It’s called “fruit of the poisonous tree.” If we can show that the officer’s stop of your car was illegal, we might be able to beat your charge completely.

For DUI cases, any field sobriety tests you took, statements you made, or the actual breath test results would be tainted evidence. They all resulted from the stop of your car.

In driving on suspended cases, the officer typically pulls you over and then determines that you were suspended. And many of my clients admit to being suspended (which you shouldn’t do! – stay quiet!). If we successfully challenge the stop, this evidence couldn’t come in against you.

What’s the rule for making a valid stop? Generally, the police can stop a vehicle when they have “reasonable articulable suspicion” that the driver has committed a traffic or criminal offense.

Exactly what that means can be elusive. The rule essentially requires the officer to have more than a hunch that you’re doing something wrong. They need to be able to testify that there was something suspicious about the vehicle.

Due to this confusing standard, we have to analyze each case separately. During your initial call with me, I’ll find out the details about the stop. If there is something that could help us challenge the stop, we’ll definitely work on that together. Beating the stop could beat the charge.

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