A drunk driving charge was the end result of a traffic stop in Utah where the officer initially pulled over Theron Alexander, a convicted felon, for a broken license plate light, according to The Salt Lake Tribune News. Alexander's lawyer filed a motion to suppress evidence, challenging the initial traffic stop.
The officer, Utah Highway Patrol Cpl., Lisa Steed, testified at the motion hearing that she had reasonable suspicion to detain the defendant because his license plate light was not working. However, the court found the officer gave false testimony regarding personnel reprimands. Because of the false testimony, the judge could not find the officer to be credible on the issue of reasonable suspicion. So, the evidence against Alexander was suppressed and the prosecutor immediately dismissed the DUI charges.In every criminal case, including driving under the influence matters, the first question to be answered is did the officer have reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed. The officer must be able to articulate the reason for the traffic stop but that initial basis does not have to be included in the actual charges.
A skilled DUI defense attorney will file a motion to suppress, under California Penal Code Section 1538.5, if it is believed that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to detain a driver. In this case, the officer testified, (and probably wrote in the police report), that the defendant's license plate light was not working properly. Under Utah law, this would have been a violation of the vehicle code, thus making this a lawful stop.
However, the judge found that the officer was not credible because she gave false testimony. Even though that testimony was about her reprimands and not the particulars of this stop, the judge could not believe any of her testimony and all the evidence against Alexander was suppressed.
Typically, what happens at most motion hearings is the officer testifies to the facts in the report and the judge takes their word over the defendant's. Because the DUI defense counsel was able to cross examine the officer and the officer lied on the stand, the judge was forced to dismiss the other testimony that she provided.
Regardless of the other facts in the drunk driving case, since the court did not find that the officer made a lawful traffic stop, the entire DUI case was dismissed.
If you are charged with drunk driving, do not just plead guilty. You owe it to yourself to hire a skilled, DUI defense attorney that will evaluate your case. If you have a motion to suppress to file and you win, your case could get dismissed!
The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.
The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman works to minimize the negative consequences of a DUI arrest. Call 619-260-1122 today or fill out the "Contact Us" form on this page for a free telephone consultation.