Is It Possible for the Attorney to Dispute the Validity of the Police Stop?
Interviewer: Are there non-valid reasons to be pulled over, where the police do a DUI investigation? Is there any difference to be found here, in this part?
Questioning the Legitimacy of the Police Stop Is Your Attorney’s First Responsibility
Attorney Nebeker: There is. We always check every reason. That’s one of the first steps in the DUI investigation. I kind of have a checklist that I’ve created and we look at the stop. Was the stop legal and legitimate?
If your car is impounded and the officer tells you it’s because of a burned out tail light or burned out license plate light, when you go down to get your car out of impound, have the tow company check it for you. They are usually mechanics or will have someone that’s qualified there to look at the car and see if they can see what the officer sees.
Recently, I had a client come in. He was stopped for having an expired registration, but the registration wasn’t expired. He brought in the receipt that he had renewed it. He drove the car to my office. We went outside, we took a picture of the license plate with the proper sticker on it, the month and the year; all that was valid.
I copied his registration so when I go to the prosecutor, I say, “Look, here’s the receipt. He paid. This was a proper registration. I just don’t know what the officer was thinking in this case.”
A while ago, we had a case where the officer said that the car went over the white line when they’re pulling up to an intersection, where there’s a stop light. This particular city and this particular officer didn’t have the video, but the establishment had video. We were able to get that video and it didn’t show the car going over the line like the officer claimed. It’s always worth looking into and one of the big issues in DUI defense is was that a legitimate and legal stop. You just never know.
The Officer Must Have Justification for Turning a Traffic Violation Stop into a DUI Investigation
Another big thing that’s on my checklist for the DUI is once the officer stops for that traffic infraction or that piece of faulty equipment on your car. He has to have a reason to expand that stop into a DUI investigation. He has to be able to articulate, I pulled this individual out of the car to have him do the field sobriety test because of this reason.
Sometimes officers will say, “Well, they were acting funny or they were nervous, they were fidgety so that lead me to believe they were on some kind of drug, or some kind of medication.” A lot of them say they will observe the odor alcohol, or the individual had a hard time producing their registration and insurance card.
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion Can Ultimately Lead to Charges Being Dismissed
Interviewer: If video is showing the person is answering questions clearly and not fumbling for their registration, would that lead to being able to try the case thrown out?
Attorney Nebeker: That’s an issue. They can’t unreasonably delay someone for a minor traffic offense unless they have a reason. Back to the video again, this is one way it can help them.
It will show that once officers activates his overhead lights, the person will signal, they’ll safely pull over to the curb, and drive well. That’s how it helps them.