Driving under the influence cases begin with the traffic stop. For police to initiate a traffic stop, they must have reasonable suspicion that the driver is engaged in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion for a DUI stop can be based on a huge number of factors, but generally the stop must take place because of a moving violation or otherwise poor driving performance. One of the best ways to beat a DUI charge is by finding an issue with the traffic stop.
I worked on a case where the driver was stopped for failing to use a turn signal. Like many DUI traffic stops, this one happened late at night and traffic was very light. The officer who initiated the stop described no other moving violations or bad driving. After the stop and an investigation, our client was charged with driving under the influence and arrested.
We interviewed the officer and asked him whether he had seen any other indication that our client was impaired before he pulled him over. The officer confirmed that the only reason he had pulled our client over was because of a failure to signal. We then asked him whether there were any other cars on the road at the time of the stop. There were not.
Under Arizona law, a turn signal is only required when a driver’s turn or lane change would affect other traffic. Because there was no other traffic on the road, our client’s failure to signal was not a traffic violation. In a pretrial argument, we were able to convince the judge that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop, and that his mistake was not reasonable. As a result, the rest of the investigation was suppressed, and the State had no choice but to dismiss the charges against our client.
We examine all of our DUI cases for these kinds of issues and use them to get the best possible results for our clients. If you have been charged with a DUI, call us! We offer free consultations and are available to discuss your case whenever it is convenient for you.
Written By Attorney Anthony Strong