This is David Black today. We’re talking generally about probable cause and more specifically reasonable suspicion when it comes to traffic stops and likely in your case the traffic stop which eventually led to a DUI. Before we get to the over-all question that everybody’s concerned with, am I going to be convicted of a DUI, there is a threshold question which is, do the officers have cause, legal cause to stop me, to search me, to question me and to test my blood?
One of the common ways that we find the stop and eventual arrest to be illegal is when there is a lack of reasonable suspicion for the stop. In the olden days it used to be. Probable cause was required for everything and that is, it’s more likely than not that this individual committed a crime, broke the traffic law, something to that nature.
In a case called Terry vs. Ohio, the Supreme Court authorized an even lowered standard for less invasive searches and seizures of individuals. That standard which is the Terry frisk and you all have seen that on TV where the police will say hold on I’m going to do a path down, is the same standard that’s used for traffic stops for alleged violations of either criminal or civil traffic law.
What is that standard? What does that mean? When Terry was defined as this, the officer needs a specific fact? So something that can be said, something more than a mirror hunch, that either a criminal activity or a traffic violation, breach of a traffic law has occurred. This is almost as to say, if there is no reason, the officer simply looked at you and you were a minority or you looked at him funny.
In those cases, the case has to be dismissed. We rarely find that it would take a very inexperienced, almost stupid officer to say, I saw this guy and white his race and I stopped him. What we do find is officers that are stretching the truth and officers that misunderstand the law and misapply the law. What we try to do is to show that in a context of a pre-text, meaning I stopped this guy because of a wide right turn but I really thought he was DUI. Now that’s entirely legal.
There’s another case on that which says you’re allowed to do that. But in a context of a pre-text, does it cause doubt as to whether or not his statements are true, as to whether or not you didn’t fact cross that line? Is it even possible that from behind you as you were taking a right, the officer could tell that you crossed the line? I mean outside of the vehicle, the side part is from you.
We take a very good look in those cases. The very exciting for me is the attorney and now nothing, no information you received on a video can replace actual information from a lawyer that you caused. I encourage you to call a local lawyer if you do have questions and I appreciate you watching today. Thank you.