First off, the police are not allowed to pull somebody over for no reason. We all know that's what they're doing out there. They're waiting outside bars, clubs, and various areas where they believe people will be drinking alcohol so they can pull them over and catch them.
The key, though, is to catch the police in the act of just pulling somebody over because that's a violation of that individual's Fourth Amendment right not to be pulled over for no reason.
So, it would be illegal for the police to pull somebody over for no reason, or just because they thought that that person's a DUI, so I'm just going to go ahead and pull them over. That would subject anything that they found to being tossed out — the person's blood, the person's breath, any statements they made, any observations the police made — all of that would be thrown out because of the illegal pullover.
Now, what's a lawful pullover? A lawful pullover is when the police observe somebody swerving all over the road. They could pull that person over and check to make sure the person is okay and check that person to see whether or not they might be driving under the influence of some alcohol or some other drug, which would start a DUI investigation.
Many people ask; the police pulled me over for no reason. How do I prove it? They're just saying it. It's going to be my word against theirs. Fortunately — I've been doing this for twenty-five years.
So, it's been challenging to catch the police in lies related to this, but now new technology has come out that's being used to do precisely that. For example, many police vehicles are equipped with dash cams.
Reviewing Dash Cam Evidence
So if the police vehicle has a dash cam, we can request that and get the judge to order that, and then we can look and see if you were speeding, if you didn't signal, if you were swerving, and be able to challenge the police's reason for pulling you over.
Also another thing that's happened is that the police officers themselves wear body cams many times. So, suppose they're claiming you are staggering around. In that case, your speech is slurred, and it looks like you're under the influence of alcohol; we can try to get that body cam to show that the police have embellished what is going on regarding you and your situation.
So, there are a lot of different avenues out there to challenge the police's reasoning for pulling you over. Suppose the police see that you're committing a traffic violation that would be a lawful reason to pull you over. They should just be pulling you over to give you a ticket or a warning for the traffic violation.
But anybody who has ever been pulled over, especially at night on the weekend, knows that one of the first questions the police ask you, in addition to, do you know why I pulled you over, is, have you had anything to drink tonight?
If you say that you've had something to drink — some alcohol — then that's it. You just started their DUI investigation for them because that starts to give them probable cause to check you out to make sure you're okay.
If you're telling them that you've had alcohol and now you're driving a car, they will be able to do a full check on you. So, that's not the best way to interact with the police if you want to avoid being investigated for a DUI.
Another trick I'm seeing them pull lately is that they'll wait outside liquor stores to get people drinking and driving. They figure people who go into liquor stores may already be drinking and are just getting more alcohol.
So, it would be unlawful for them to pull you over just because you came out of a liquor store. That's not good enough. They're going to need to get some more details — like if you came staggering out of the liquor store like you were drunk and then you got in the car — that would be a lawful reason to pull somebody over.
If you get in your car and start swerving all over the road, they can pull you over. So, they need some sign or indication that you're drinking and driving.
The reality is that we know what they're doing is they're just taking a scenario saying it's Saturday night. It's midnight. This person's out of the road. They probably had some drinks. But that's not good enough for purposes of the law to pull somebody over.
So, the key is that they have to try to add some extra thing to get you for a DUI in Los Angeles, so they're adding in swerving or something that nobody could verify one way or another. Unless, of course, you have the dashcam or some other video evidence.
One of my clients had a video-equipped to the top of his car, so when the police claimed that he was going twenty miles over the speed limit, we beat them on that because he wasn't, and he had proof of it, but obviously, not all of us have that. Sometimes it's difficult to counter the police's evidence.
Attorney Review of Your Police Stop
The best way to do it is to get your attorney. Tell him everything you know. I have clients come in, and we go over the whole thing in the privacy of my office. Let the attorney get all the paperwork and then talk about that. Now, you have all the puzzle pieces related to the illegal or legal pullover.
You can decide, or the attorney can determine whether or not a motion will be filed indicating that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. They pulled you over illegally, and therefore, anything they gathered from that pullover is the fruit of the poisonous tree and should all be thrown out because of the unlawful pullover.