I recently represented a lady on her second accusation of a DUI. The first accusation she plead guilty. I appealed it for her because there was no evidence that this woman was impaired to any degree. The officer arrested her because she went through a red/yellow light and smelled alcohol on her. That was it. Case was reduced to red light violation. This second accusation was interesting. The officers get a dispatch call that two people are arguing in her front yard. The police show up and see a man yell something at a woman. The woman yells something back. Officers could not identify what the words were. The woman started her car and drove away. The police chased her down and pulled her over.
Here is where the problem began. Why did the officer’s have a reason to pull her over? Yelling is not a crime. The officers have a right to investigate but do not have a right to stop and seize a person without a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. If a report of an argument was the only reason to pull someone over, then every attorney in town should be seized–if that was against the law.
We took our case to the judge to ask for a dismissal based on the fact that there was no reason for the officer’s to pull the woman over.
A hearing was held and the officers could not describe any criminal conduct. The officers could not describe or articulate any fact that led them to believe that the woman committed a crime. In fact, while the officer’s followed her in her car, they could not describe any traffic violation. The judge dismissed the case.
An officer has to have a reason to pull a citizen over. The officer must be able to articulate facts that lead them to believe that a crime was committed or about to be committed and that the person did it. It can be something very simple like a tail light out or running a stop sign.
Points to remember when pulled over:
- don’t be afraid to question the officer why you were pulled over.
- don’t be afraid to ask to see the radar reading. (officer does not have to show, but it is good to ask)
- don’t be afraid to exercise your right to remain silent. (just identifying information to be given)
- don’t be afraid to ask for a lawyer.
- don’t be afraid to take your case to a judge for his opinion.
- Always be courteous.