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Judge finds stop illegal, throws out evidence

Our legal system allows enforcement officers to pull over drivers in certain situations — namely if the driver violated a traffic law. A failure to have a justifiable reason for the stop is not just frustrating for all involved, it is illegal. However, even with these laws protecting drivers throughout the country there are cases that involve police making stops based on false pretenses.

The officer may then use the stop to gather evidence for other criminal charges, such as a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or drug possession. If the driver can establish the officer did not have good reason for the stop, the driver can argue the judge should throw out any evidence gathered during the stop.

Those who are charged with wrongdoing after getting pulled over are wise to consider this strategy when building their defense. A recent case provides an example.

In this case, an officer pulled over a driver claiming the driver had failed to properly signal a turn. During the stop, the officer stated he smelled marijuana and conducted a more thorough search. The officer discovered marijuana within the vehicle and used the evidence to support criminal charges.  

The driver argued the stop was not legal. He was able to provide video evidence to show he signaled the turn, safely made the turn and even pulled over safely when the officer turned on his signal. Based on this evidence, the court decided everything that happened after the stop was illegal, ultimately leading to suppression of the evidence gathered during the stop.

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