Can Police Pull Me Over for Any Reason?

July 20, 2016

Contrary to popular belief, a police officer cannot conduct a traffic stop for any reason. Instead, a police officer must be armed with “reasonable articulable facts that criminal activity is afoot.” Moreover, the police officer reasonably believes you may have committed a crime. This standard is called “reasonable suspicion” and not “probable cause.” Reasonable suspicion is a much lower standard.

Criminal activity can be a felony, misdemeanor, or even a simple traffic infraction. For instance, not making a complete stop at a stop sign is an infraction. And if the officer observed you commit that crime, the officer is justified to conduct a traffic stop of your vehicle.

Claims of “you just looked suspicious” or “I had a hunch the driver was up to no good” are not articulable facts and therefore, the traffic stop will be deemed unlawful.

Note however, the standard in which a police officer is held to, does not require that actually commit an offense. Rather, the standard is whether the officer reasonably believes you committed an offense.

Contesting the validity of a traffic stop in DUI cases is common. Normally a DUI lawyer will examine the validity of the traffic stop, and if there’s a legitimate argument as to a violation of your Fourth Amendment right, your lawyer will file a motion seeking the suppression of all evidence gained after your detention. This includes, your statements, field sobriety tests, and your subsequent blood or breath test. If the court agrees that there’s a Fourth Amendment violation, all evidence will be deemed suppressed and the government will be unable to proceed with the case against you.

For more information about the standard of proof for traffic stops, or if you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, contact an Newport Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Law Offices of John Rogers to schedule a free confidential consultation.

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