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San Francisco DUI Attorney on constitutionality of police stops

 Posted on May 12, 2014 in DUI

Whether the police lawfully stopped you by reason of a reported complaint to the police about your manner of driving depends on what the United States Supreme Court refers to as “the totality of circumstances." Last month, the high court reviewed the trial court record of a vehicle enforcement stop in Berkeley, California, in a case called Navarette v. California .

In this particular case, the enforcement stop was deemed constitutional based on the following facts:

• Use of 911 system (suggestive that caller was not concerned about the report being traced back to him);

• Detailed description of driving which was consistent with the driving of an impaired motorist (i.e., it was more than just a conclusory statement that the suspect was a drunk driver - it specifically described a reckless manner of driving);

• Detailed description of car (the vehicle style and license plate number were provided)

• Description of location and direction of the vehicle was given;

• Contemporaneous report (i.e., it just happened)

Because the Navarette Court in this 5-4 decision agreed that these facts amounted to "a close call" in terms of upholding the warrantless stop, any set of facts that amount to something less than the aforementioned circumstances is subject to the suppression of evidence with a California Penal Code section 1538.5 motion.

Thus, if you were stopped for no reason other than somebody having reported you or your car to the police as a drunk driver, it may be possible with the assistance of knowledgeable defense counsel to have the evidence against you (e.g., field sobriety tests and chemical test evidence) thrown out of court and the charges against you dismissed. This remedy is mandated by the federal exclusionary rule to deter police from violating the Fourth Amendment.

If you were you stopped by the police we can review the report and any audio and video tape in the case and determine if the stop was constitutional. I am a Board Certified DUI defense lawyer and ready to defend you - call me today.

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