When I represent a client on a DUI charge I usually file certain motions to challenge the police officer’s reason for stopping the client and a motion to challenge the police officer’s belief that the client was intoxicated. These motions are called a Motion to Quash the Arrest and Supress the Evidence.
In the first instance, challenging the police officer’s reason to stop your vehicle. Lets begin with the basic understanding that a police officer does not have the right to stop a person’s vehicle for any reason. A police officer might suspect that you are intoxicated because it is 3 a.m. but that is not enough to pull someone over. A police officer needs “reasonable suspicion” or what is referred to as “articulable suspicion” to briefly detain an individual. This “reasonable suspicion” is more than simply a “hunch” but not enough evidence to arrest an individual. For example, an individual driving and weaving within a line (not leaving the lane) might be enough provided the person weaving does so several times in a short distance. The more distance involved (say the person drove 1 mile and weaved twice in his or her lane) the less likely a judge will find that the stop was reasonable. If a judge determines that the reason for the stop was not reasonable, all of the evidence later found by the police officer is prevented from being used by the prosecutor.
The second basis is to challenge the police officer’s determination that my client was intoxicated. Here, I question the police officer on how he performed the road-side tests and how my client performed. The arresting police officer will only want to talk about any mistakes my client made and will not want to mention all of the things my client did that would indicate he or she was not intoxicated. Here it is my job to show the judge that although you might have done 5-7 things wrong, for example, did not walk heel-to-toe, you did 500-700 things right.
Finally, winning this type of motion means the case is over and my client has won. In the event we do not win the motion, we still have obtained the arresting police officer’s sworn testimony which we will be able to use at trial. Knowing what the police officer will say at trial, is a very big advantage and very important in preparing for trial.