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  • Good Traffic Case Law

    State v. Hess

    - Police Officer made an investigatory stop. Officer stopped defendants Ponitac after running the license plate. The license plate comes back fine. The officer subsequently checked the registered owners drivers license status. The drivers license status showed that the owners drivers license was suspended.

    - The officer stops the vehicle even without confirming the race/sex of the driver.

    - Defendant tried to suppress the evidence as an illegal stop because the defendant argued that the officer did not know if the driver was the registered owner.

    - Court ruled in favor of the officer saying that the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle because it was reasonable for the officer to believe that the registered owner was the driver.

    *Obviously if you can confirm the driver is of the opposite sex/race of the owner before the stop this won't apply.
    John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

  • #2
    Glad you posted this. I did a ride along this summer where the officer ran a plate that showed the registered owner's DL was suspended. He stopped him, it was the registered owner, and the driver said he had work privileges but he did not have the paperwork to prove it. Officer let him go with a warning, telling him to make sure he keeps the paperwork with him.

    Fast forward to last week when I'm working my first midnight shift and my training officer asks me about the car in front of us..."if I run that plate and it comes back the driver is suspended, what do you want me to do?" I told him to stop the driver.

    He said two things...A) If we can get a description from dispatch and see if it is somewhat close to the driver (hard because it's dark in a rural area) then we could probably stop him. But what he would do is B) follow him and wait until he commits an infraction, then pull him over and begin investigating whether the driver is DUS. He said even though he probably COULD stop him based off that, it just made more sense to try and get something else as PC for a stop, which makes sense.

    I guess the lesson is, each officer has his or her own way of doing things. As long as you're not malicious or purposely acting outside the law, then you'll win some, you'll lose some.

    Comment


    • #3
      Rule of thumb for ANY RS suspicion stop is that it never hurts to also have a traffic infraction that turns it into a probable cause stop. For instance, if a vehicle is weaving within it's lane, I have RS to pull it over to see if the driver is sick, injured, or impaired. However, it should does look better if the vehicle comes out of it's lane interrupting the flow of traffic, therefor giving me probable cause to stop on a traffic infraction. This is because fact is ALWAYS better than opinion (I think the driver is suspended aka RS versus I know the vehicle only has one brake light aka PC).

      With that said, I make RS stops all the time based on the owner being suspended, even if I can't see the driver.

      Comment


      • #4
        Just a footnote might wanna wait to see what all case are out there on the subject. Case in point State v. Cerino, 117 P.3d 876, 878 (Idaho Ct. App. 2005), the Idaho Court of Appeals held “that the mere observation of a vehicle being driven by someone of the same gender as the unlicensed owner is insufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity.”

        Comment


        • #5
          That happens all the time here. Usually we can confirm the gender, race, sometimes age and even height, however not always. I agree its always better to find an infraction, but sometimes you just can't. I've seen it play out in court before too, never had any problems.

          Comment


          • #6
            It's golden in NC. However, if it hasn't been used in your county, you should know it by heart because I saw a defense attorney try to have the arrest thrown out (this as the PC) because the ADA didn't know the case law existed. Thankfully, the Trooper did.
            sigpic

            I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

            Comment


            • #7
              We have aircards in our cars and can access drivers license photos. If I run the registered owners license and its suspended... I pull up their d/l photo, look at the photo, look at the driver... if it matches they get stopped. Great for reg owners with warrants too.

              Comment


              • #8
                Pictures are good for identification of those not carrying or verifying warrants, etc...but how are you looking at the driver from the back and identifying them from a frontal picture?
                sigpic

                I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Obviously if you have a "touchy" legal system it's not hard to find PC for an actual stop.

                  The way I understand is that local courts here really want to see a physical description match on the suspended to the actual driver. Or some sort of previous contact etc. Just saying Joe owns this car and his license is suspended so I stopped him wont fly from what I've been advised.


                  I wouldnt be so high strung to get a suspended driver where I'd go to those great lenght's unless I really really thought there was more to the stop. And if I thought there was more to the stop and something might come out of Search incident to arrest I wouldnt use a suspended driver's match to stop the vehicle as I know how some judges can be. I'd try to find PC for the stop, arrest on suspended. Search per arrest. If I couldnt find anything that's their lucky day...it's how the game plays out.

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                  • #10
                    state v. Hess...what state was it?
                    Perseverate In Pugna

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      North Carolina
                      sigpic

                      I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
                        Pictures are good for identification of those not carrying or verifying warrants, etc...but how are you looking at the driver from the back and identifying them from a frontal picture?
                        I'll try to look at them while stopped at a light or try and get along side. Of course you can never go wrong having get some other PC for the stop

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Been A-Ok here for a few years after a State Supreme Court ruling that read, "Barring information to the contrary, it's reasonable to believe a vehicle's registered owner is its operator."
                          All Gave Some - Some Gave All

                          {"data-align":"none","data-size":"custom","data-tempid":"temp_14312_1475388990098_890","height":"65","title":"flower.gif","width":"72"}

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Resq14 View Post
                            Been A-Ok here for a few years after a State Supreme Court ruling that read, "Barring information to the contrary, it's reasonable to believe a vehicle's registered owner is its operator."
                            That's been our local standard here as well...I have had two suppression hearings on such stops and been upheld both times. Even one where I said the tint was too dark to verify the age and gender, but I could tell the height and weight were in the ballpark of the registered owner.
                            My posts are sometimes educated, sometimes informed, and sometimes blowing smoke...but they are mine and mine alone and do not reflect on anyone else (especially my employer).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Many members of my department run random queries all day long under the plain view doctrine. Any vehicle that comes back with the registered owner having a suspended license or a warrant is RS for a stop. I myself have done this countless times and have never had an issue in court.

                              We do have the ability to view license pictures but it is a tad difficult to determine if the owner is operating after dark. If the registered owner has a warrant then stop the vehicle. It is pretty easy to explain to the driver what happened if he is not the owner and subject of the warrant. And if the owner is driving then that makes it real easy.

                              Comment

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