Unconstitutional DUI Stops: A case study from Lee County Illinois
An officer has the right to pull over a driver if they have a reasonable suspicion that the driver was in violation of the law. Without having a reasonable suspicion, the stopping of a vehicle is in violation of the Constitution.
A Lee County DUI
Michael J. Young is representing a client who was recently charged with a DUI in Lee County Illinois. The DUI was based on evidence gathered after officers pulled over a motorcycle without any reasonable cause to do so. The driver of the motorcycle and his wife were on their way home when a deputy pulled over another vehicle on the road which the couple was traveling. The deputy heard the couple shouting as they passed the scene of the unrelated stop. The deputy contacted a state trooper, reporting what she termed a “rolling domestic.” The only information that she gave to the trooper was that there were two people on a motorcycle traveling in a certain direction.
The trooper began driving in the opposite direction, and upon seeing a vehicle with a single headlight, turned on her sirens and pulled over the motorcycle. The driver of the motorcycle was charged with a DUI.
Was this stop legal?
If the motorcycle was swerving out of its lane or traveling above the speed limit, there would have been a valid reason to stop the vehicle. In this case, though, the only thing that seemed to attract the attention of the deputy was that fact that the couple was yelling. Of course, it seems likely that anyone traveling on a motorcycle would have to raise their voice to be heard. This means that the stop was made without any reasonable justification.
Another Problem on the Stop:
There is an additional problem with this stop. The officer who heard the couple yelling did not make the stop. It was a different officer who pulled over the motorcycle. While it is possible for an officer to stop someone based on a description given by another, the stop should involve “independent corroboration.” Here the officer who made the stop initiated it when all she could see was one headlight- meaning she did not know if there were two people on the motorcycle, or anything about the make, model, color or license plate of the bike. She also did not see the motorcycle doing anything that would justify a stop. In this case, it seems that neither officer had a justifiable reason to pull over the motorcycle.
What happens when a stop is illegal?
If police officers stop a person in a way that violates the Constitution’s provisions on seizures, any evidence gathered in the illegal search cannot be used to prove the crime. In this case, that would leave the officers with no evidence that the driver committed a DUI.
Attorney Michael J. Young works to uphold the rights of citizens who have been charged with DUI’s and other criminal activities. If you are facing criminal charges, contact us today at 708-410-0090 for a free consultation.