Illegal Traffic Stops
When Can the Police Stop My Vehicle?
You cannot be randomly stopped by police if you are not violating the law. In order to pull over a driver, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that you are driving drunk. You cannot be pulled over due to the type or condition of your vehicle (unless there is a safety issue/violation), loud music coming from your vehicle or any other reason if you are not violating the law.
One exception is a roadside sobriety checkpoint, but even then, police must only operate the checkpoint with a great number of restrictions. In either case, a person could be arrested and charged with DUI after an illegal traffic stop.
We would need to determine whether or not the arresting officer is at fault for an unlawful arrest.
This unlawfulness can be determined in two ways:
1) if the officer initiated the stop with unfair pretext and bias,
2) if there is evidence that the officer acted in a discriminatory manner.
If a traffic stop and subsequent arrest is deemed unlawful, the state’s case essentially evaporates. This is because the state cannot use evidence gathered as a result of an unlawful stop. The way to bring this challenge to court is through a “motion to suppress evidence” (Penal Code §1538.5) filed by a California DUI attorney.
An officer of the law may determine that it is necessary to pull someone over because they believe that they have reasonable evidence to suggest that the person driving is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Common evidence includes swerving, excessive speed, recklessness, not stopping at the limit line, incomplete stops at red lights and stop signs et.al. Obviously, if a person is guilty of basic traffic violations, an officer has the right to pull them over. However, when a police officer initiates a traffic stop on the pretext of a broken tail light, for example, or “fuzzy dice” hanging from the mirror (causing, ostensibly, a barrier to the driver’s vision), then it is possible to prove that the officer in question had a premeditated intention of pulling over or arresting the driver.
Simply proving that unfair or discriminatory pretext was used will not hold up in a court of law. It may be necessary to vigorously cross-examine the arresting officer on the stand. It is certain that their testimony will be important in proving that the initial stop, whether it resulted in a DUI arrest or not, was illegal to begin with.
Traffic stops on the basis of discrimination are illegal, yet incredibly common. Even if the individual driving happens to be under the influence or impaired, if the pretext for their stop and seizure is illegal, the arrest can more readily be challenged.
If an officer is required to justify a DUI arrest, they will not be able to do so if they have pulled an individual over for “suspicious dress,” hairstyle/hair coverings, car model (or vehicle decoration), or on the basis of race. If you believe you’ve been the victim of discrimination, then challenge the stop with a renowned Northern California DUI attorney from Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC.
Our dedicated team of experienced and highly skilled attorneys will work to prove that there was no probable cause for the stop, and then move on to challenge any further illegally obtained evidence (including your breath or blood results). Even though the laws are notoriously strict, there’s no reason to live with the burden of an unlawful California DUI. Attorney fees don’t have to break the bank. Get the defense you deserve. You could be one phone call away from a dismissal!
At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we have had many DUI cases dismissed after establishing that the police violated the rights of the driver by illegally stopping the driver. Before an officer can stop a driver, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.
There are many cases in which the police overstepped the bounds of the law, by violating the state and federal constitutions and pulled over a driver that was operating a vehicle legally, and subsequently filed charges for DUI.
Call us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 and find out what over 40 years of combined DUI Defense experience can do for you.
Please call our office today at (707) 571-8600 in our centrally located Santa Rosa office in Sonoma County or call our office in San Rafael in Marin County at (415) 492-4507 to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.