- April 29, 2013
There Has to Be a Reason
No police officer can pull a driver over without reason to believe that the motorist has broken the law. Since there are many reasons why someone may be driving in a manner that causes the officer to suspect intoxication or some other form of illegal activity, your Tacoma DUI lawyer must question exactly what provides “a reason to suspect.”
What Did the Officer See?
The first issue that your DUI lawyer will consider when evaluating the legality of a traffic stop is to identify the officer’s personal observations of the your actions. Did the officer actually see you break the law? In most situations, a stop occurs because the officer believes that he saw the violation as it happened. This belief is one of the factors that your Tacoma DUI attorney will question.
United States Supreme Court Decision
As your Tacoma DUI lawyer can verify, stopping a driver for no reason other than to check his driver’s license and registration has been deemed improper by the United States Supreme Court In Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 663 (1979), the court ruled that if there is no “articulable and reasonable suspicion” that the motorist lacks a driver’s license or vehicle registration or is suspected of having broken the law, pulling a driver simply to check the aforementioned documents violates the motorist’s rights under the Fourth Amendment.
Probable Cause vs. Suspicion
Your lawyer will explain that there is a difference between reasonable suspicion as defined by the court and probable cause. The former gives the officer authority to pull you over and detain you subject to the limitations listed above. The latter gives him authority to arrest you.
Was the Stop Legal?
Your attorney and the police do face a common issue. They each must make the determination that the officer had sufficient reason to suspect you of having broken the law if the stop is to be deemed proper. However, since the officer must do this instantly and your DUI attorney is able to take more time, those determinations may differ considerably.
A Fair and Just Evaluation
Despite the pressure on the officer to evaluate the situation immediately, it does not follow that the evaluation made on the scene is necessarily consistent with the facts. Your Tacoma DUI lawyer understands the officer’s honesty and hard work and will express this to the Court. However, your DUI attorney will also stipulate that while an honest effort is laudable, it does not constitute an exemption to the law. The police officer cannot stop a motorist without a genuine reason to believe that the driver has in fact committed a violation.
Contact Your Tacoma DUI Attorney Today
Have you been the victim of an illegal traffic stop? Call one of the Tacoma DUI lawyers at Greene & Lloyd PLLC: (253) 770-0808 and get the help you need.