The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be searched.” Many people believe that this pertains only to search warrants issued by a court for someone’s home or property, when in fact; probable cause exists in other areas as well. In fact, according to the United States Courts, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation has occurred in order to conduct a traffic stop.
In this short video, David Michael Cantor explains the DUI/DWI Defense of No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop:
Fourth Amendment and DUI/DWI
Because the United States Constitution requires police to have a reasonable suspicion to stop someone, there are limits on what reasons the police can use to pull the driver over. Race, physical appearance or dress, are insufficient legal grounds to stop someone. In addition, courts have held that simply driving in an area where there are many bars in the early morning hours does not constitute a reasonable suspicion for a police officer to pull them over. In order for a police officer to pull a vehicle over, there must be a traffic violation, such as running a stop sign, crossing the center line or speeding.
No Reasonable Suspicion
Many times, police officers will park near bars and nightclubs and target patrons who are leaving the location. The officer pulls over vehicles, claiming that they crossed the center line, did not come to a complete stop at an intersection or made an improper turn. In some cases, the officer claims that the person was driving “too slowly,” prompting them to perform the traffic stop. If the state cannot prove that the driver committed the initial traffic stop that led to the driving under the influence (DUI) charge, the case must be dismissed as reasonable suspicion to perform the stop cannot be proven.
In Arizona, the legal precedent that allows this defense against a DUI is a case known as State of Arizona v. Livingston, where officers from a specialized task force claimed to have witnessed the defendant cross six inches drift onto the shoulder on three occasions. The vehicle was travelling at approximately 50 miles per hour through a large curved area of highway, and once the officers stopped the vehicle, they performed a search, finding a significant amount of marijuana. The defendant was arrested and found guilty of several drug charges. They appealed the verdict, and court documents revealed that the defendant had maintained a safe rate of speed, and even if she did drift onto the shoulder, it was not enough of a violation to warrant a stop. The conviction was overturned, and the case now serves as precedent for what Arizona police may determine is probable cause to stop a vehicle.
Anyone charged with a DUI/DWI in Arizona needs the expertise and advice of an experienced DUI defense attorney from DM Cantor in order to protect their rights under the law. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI/DWI charge in Arizona, contact us online or by telephone at (602) 307-0808 today to schedule a free consultation to see how we can help protect your rights.
For a comprehensive list of all DUI charges in Arizona, click here.