Unlawful Police Stops in California
Law enforcement is not permitted to stop people in their cars unless they have probable cause. In other words, they need a lawful reason to pull someone over, or it will be considered an illegal stop.
Examples of the most common reasons I have seen the police use to justify a pullover in DUI cases include, but are not limited to: Driving too fast, weaving, driving with improperly tinted windows, driving with no lights on, and what they characterize as reckless driving.
These are just a tiny sampling of the reasons police use to pull a person over for a DUI offense. As you can see from the list, there are many ways that police can justify a pullover.
Having defended the clients for the past twenty-five years related to DUI offenses, I have had many circumstances where I knew the police had illegally pulled my client over. Still, the critical issue is…how do you prove it? This is where experience, local knowledge, and experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney come in.
Police Must Have Sufficient Probable Cause
In some circumstances, the police are caught pulling someone over because they think they are guilty of a crime. For example, it is common for police to wait outside bars and clubs late at night and pick off drivers.
If the only reason they are pulling people over is that they are coming from a bar, this would not be a valid reason. All the evidence they find (the breath test and the field sobriety tests, for example) would all be thrown out, and the person could not be prosecuted for a DUI offense.
This is the great battle in these illegal pullover cases. The police know that a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer will challenge them in court if they do not find a good reason to pull over a person. And the DUI defense attorney knows the police will do and say anything to protect their arrest.
Laws Regarding Unlawful Police Stop in DUI Cases
The United States Constitution protects all people in America and specifically Los Angeles, from illegal searches and seizures of their property.
Law enforcement officials are stopping people all over the country for all kinds of made-up reasons. The crucial issue in these cases becomes how do you prove it?
More and more experienced DUI attorneys are coming up with unique and innovative ways of doing this. The use of video evidence has become a very effective weapon against illegal stops.
Many of the cars police use are equipped with video, and now, in Los Angeles, many law enforcement officers are equipped with body cameras that can be used to prove a client was illegally pulled over.
Many laws protect us from the police's efforts to pull people over and arrest them for a DUI. Of course, a savvy Los Angeles DUI lawyer is needed to have any chance of utilizing these laws to the advantage of the defense.
I meet with people every day, discuss the likelihood of prevailing on an illegal stop or search motion, and make decisions that shape my client's future driving record, criminal record, reputation, and freedom.
Arrested for DUI after an unlawful traffic stop by police? Have you been charged with driving under the influence? Did police violate your rights during a traffic stop? If so, our Los Angeles DUI lawyers want to help you protect your legal rights.
Often, DUI arrests result from unlawful police stops. Our DUI defense attorneys are here to protect and fight for your constitutional and legal rights.
Police Officers MUST Observe Traffic Violation
A police officer must have probable cause to pull you over, meaning that they must have reasonable suspicion of some criminal activity.
To be stopped for driving under the influence, the officer must have observed some behavior that would cause one to reasonably suspect that the driver was under the influence.
Swerving, speeding, driving recklessly or too slow, ignoring traffic laws, and weaving in and out of lanes are examples of behavior that would cause a police officer to believe that one is driving under the influence.
If an officer stops you without reasonable cause but instead just on a chance that you might be drinking, this may be a violation of your rights and will be considered an unlawful police stop. As your DUI lawyer, if we demonstrate that the stop was unlawful, your case may be dismissed.
So if you are being charged with a DUI and there is even a slight possibility that the police stop was unlawful, call the Hedding Law Firm as soon as possible and set up a free face-to-face consultation.
How Can You Win an Illegal Stop Motion?
Anytime somebody is charged with a crime, they're always looking for ways to defend themselves and see if the police did something wrong during their arrest. People don't realize the ways that they can get their cases dismissed. They recognize there is sometimes an opportunity to do so.
The first thing you need to know about trying to win an illegal stop motion is that you need an experienced attorney that's been doing this for a long time. Some young fresh attorneys from law school will not know how to effectively cross-examine a police officer to show the Judge that something illegal happened.
What an illegal stop has to do with what evidence you've got to be able to attach the police. One big piece of evidence that's come out recently is the police officer's bodycam evidence.
These guys are supposed to have their bodycam on at all times, but unfortunately, they turn them on and off as they see fit. But, believe it or not, many of my fellow attorneys and I have caught them in multiple lies regarding their police reports compared to their bodycam.
You would think they would know they've got their bodycam on and should give accurate information, but many times they don't, and this can be seized on to win an illegal stop motion.
Even if they don't have the bodycam on, the question is, why did you turn it off right before the stop so we can't check to see if the person did not signal when they made the turn? That starts to cast doubt on whether or not they are telling the truth.
Real Case Examples
I had a case recently; it was a federal case out of Las Vegas. My client was driving along when he got pulled over, and they searched his car.
Fortunately, we were able to get the bodycam evidence, and it looked like the bodycam evidence had been cut in multiple areas. We asked for the unredacted version of the bodycam, and we didn't get anything.
I filed an illegal stop motion and asked the prosecutor to turn over any information regarding the police officer lying or fabricating evidence. That ended up opening a massive can of worms.
The police officer was set to resign because he had altered bodycam evidence, and we won the case. This is just one small example of sometimes, if you do things correctly and know how to file the proper motion, you can win the case.
Case Example #2
I had another case recently where the police pulled my client's car over. Both of the police officers on each side of the vehicle had bodycams, and they ended up arresting my client and putting him in the back of the police car basically for no reason.
They did an illegal search of his car, and they found contraband. The bottom line is that they couldn't arrest him and put him in the back of the car because he hadn't done anything except for a traffic violation. So there are all sorts of angles to attack the police.
A recent case came out regarding that if you can't produce your insurance, they cannot search your car.
But bet your bottom dollar when the police pull somebody over; they're trying to search the car. The only way that they will be able to do it is if they can get probable cause that there might be criminal activity afoot or if the person is foolish enough to give them consent to do it.
So, if you need the best, pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Related Content: Anatomy of a Police DUI Pullover