How Courts Deal with Pretext Stops
The police do not have to be transparent in conducting traffic stops. An expert Tampa DUI lawyer is crucial in defending your rights if the police acted unlawfully at any point during your DUI arrest.
Barring a valid equal protection challenge, your DUI stop will always hold up at court. Even if the police officer has an ulterior motive in pulling you over, (like a drug search) it will be permissible as long as he had legally allowable cause, such as a traffic violation. Pretext stops with less than transparent purposes have been cleared by the United States Supreme Court.
Justified Reasons for Traffic Stops
An officer has a virtually limitless amount of reasons at his disposal to justify a vehicle stop, but he will probably rely on some fairly common reasons to conduct enforcement stops that lead to a DUI charge. One of the most common reasons given for stopping a driver is that the officer observed the vehicle weaving. However, what constitutes weaving, and how to quantify weaving, are contentious issues that are dealt with differently state by state. Your Tampa DUI lawyer will utilize this ambiguity in the law if it is relevant to your case.
Weaving Inside the Lane
Courts have ruled that weaving within the lane affords an officer with reasonable cause to perform a traffic stop to administer a DUI test if such weaving continues for a significant distance. In aCaliforniacase, ¾ of a mile was considered an acceptable distance. Courts have additionally found that if a driver continuously weaves within the lane, it also validates the stop.
But other courts have rejected this standard in allowing for the detention of the vehicle. Some have found that making contact with the lane is neither weaving out of the lane nor illegal. In one Texas case, the court ruled the officer’s detention illegal after the officer estimated that the driver’s vehicle weaved within the lane as many as seven times as he pursued the driver for approximately a mile and a half. That the officer was unsure about how often the driver had weaved within the lane contributed to the ruling.
If you believe the police violated your rights during a traffic stop, please contact Tampa DUI lawyer James Adams at (813) 874-9116. The initial consultation is free.