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Pa Courts rule PC must be present for traffic stop, not just reasonable suspicion


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  • Pa Courts rule PC must be present for traffic stop, not just reasonable suspicion

    Another stupid decision by Pennsylvania courts.....

    They have ruled that an officer must possess probable cause to believe a violation has occurred in order to conduct a traffic stop, and not just reasonable suspicion that a violation MAY HAVE occurred. The case is based on a stop for crossing the white fog line on the side of the road a few times.

    The officer didn't charge him for Driving On Right Side Of Roadway, which is different than Driving On Roadways Laned For Traffic. Had he charged the first section, he probably would have been alright. The latter section states, "....vehicle shall be driven ...within a single lane and shall not be moved until.....the move can be made with safety".

    Apparently the officer testified to the fact that he stopped the vehicle on suspicion that he was DUI, and not based upon an actual violation of the vehicle code.

    We always seem to make our own lives harder. Remember, how you testify is EVERYTHING.

    And Pa LEOs, I would charge Section 3301 instead of 3309. Solves the issue......... - Web solutions for municipal government, police, fire, and EMS agencies.

  • #2
    Hmmm that is a interesting thing. I think I will remember that for the next time I visit the PA area. I know it should not be too hard to find enough PC to pull a vehicle over. I know at night one of the ones I used all the time was for faulty equipment when that little light shining on their rear plate was not operating correctly. LOL

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    • #3
      Thats not what the Supreme Court says, and Im sure if appealed they will be over ruled.
      Darn Liberal Judges


      • #4

        I don't know if I understand you correctly. Either an officer witnessed a traffic violation or he or she didn't! There is no in between. If an officer isn't sure a violation occurred, then that officer needs to go back for some traffic training.



        • #5
          The officer made a common pre-textual stop.

          He had PC on the lane infraction. Then, he made his testimonial blunder by forgetting his PC and went straight for the DUI statement...

          Either way, his stop was good and the case is


          Sir, that tag light is pretty dim...

          Sir, I am afraid you are under arrest for
          violating GA's controlled substances act...

          HA, Ha, Ha, Ha....tag lights...
          Pre-text is legal. Put them on the side!
          The coke I got Saturday was on tag lights...
          First rule of policing:

          1. Marry well.


          • #6
            Let me clarify.....

            The courts ruled that the officer was mistaken in the belief that crossing the white line was a violation. Due to the wording of the statute, this situation was not a violation.

            So they courts had to decide whether a police officer can stop a vehicle based upon reasonable suspicion that the driver committed or is committing a violation (DUI), or must the officer possess PC that a violation has occurred. They ruled that an officer must have PC. So even when an officer observes activity and driving habits that would be indicative of a DUI, unless there is an actual violation of law, he cannot stop the vehicle.

            The entire transcript of the opinion can be found here:

            You need Adobe Acrobat to view it.
   - Web solutions for municipal government, police, fire, and EMS agencies.


            • #7

              Wouldn't it depend on the highway they were on?

              If there was only one lane in each direction then 3301 Driving on Right side of Roadway.

              If there is more than ne lane in each direction then 3309 Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic.

              With 3301 the defense is still going to argue that the fog line is on the right side of the roadway.

              I'd throw in 3714 Careless Driving for good measure in this case, but not if I found out the guy swerved because he spilled his morning coffee.


              • #8
                We had a case a few years ago where a DCNR Ranger attempted to stop a vehicle for a broken taillight. The vehicle failed to stop for the emergency lights. The Ranger followed the vehicle off of park property and finally stopped the vehicle in a parking lot. The driver was arrested for DUI.

                The Ranger made the mistake of testifying that his intent was to stop the driver and cite him for a broken taillight.

                Defense argued that the Ranger didn't have the authority to follow the vehicle off of park property and thus out of the jurisdiction for a summary traffic offence. (At the time there was some confusion as to the wording of our arrest powers)

                It all could have been avoided if the Ranger had said his intent was to stop and warn the driver of the taillight being out. That failure to stop for emergency lighting constituted 3733 Fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer a misdemeanor, the misdemeanor being the reason for following the vehicle off of the park property.

                Youre right Bravo8, even though you know what youre doing at the time if you let them twist your words at the hearing...makes you wonder what the Commonwealth Attorneys are doing while the defense starts twisting things around.


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