Better Call Glew: A Case of Improbable Cause

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Jay Brockman
This weekend I got a DUI. The way the cop stopped me seemed weird to me though. He said he pulled me over for speeding.  I knew I wasn't speeding because I saw him behind me and when I asked how fast I was going he said 66 mph!!! He immediately started asking me questions about how much I had to drink that night and before I knew it the cop had me out of the car and standing on one foot and blowing into a breathalyzer.  How can I get pulled over for speeding when I was going SLOWER than the rest of traffic and end up with a DUI??? It seemed like the cop was looking for a reason to pull me over because he followed me for a while before he pulled me over but I know I didn't swerve and he even said I didn't when I asked. Can he use any reason to pull you over and then investigate you for something else??  

First off, I hope that you invoked your Miranda rights and did not answer any police questions or perform any field sobriety tests, although from your question, it sounds like you did the latter. Unfortunately for you, what the officer did was perfectly legal, although it hasn't always been that way. In fact, prior to several key US Supreme Court decisions in the past two decades, such stops were found to violate the Fourth Amendment; but not anymore!

As long as the officer had probable cause to believe you committed a crime, which in your case was a Vehicle Code violation for speeding (however slight), he or she is free to pull you over and investigate any unrelated criminal activity. Whether it was the officer's subjective intent to give you a ticket for speeding or to find any reason to pull you over to investigate you for DUI, as long as there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the officer's subjective intent is irrelevant.

In my experience, it is not at all that uncommon for DUI investigations to stem from the most minor Vehicle Code violations. What is even more unsettling, even if an officer pulls you over for violating the "wrong" statute, the stop does not violate the Fourth Amendment, so long as there is a "right" statute that applies to your conduct. That is to say, if an officer pulls you over for speeding, but it turns out that you were not in fact speeding, the stop is still legal so long as there is another basis for the stop, such as having a broken tail lamp. The lesson to take away from this is that you can be pulled over for the smallest of infractions as a pretext for a collateral criminal investigation and that officers have a great deal of leeway in justifying such stops. You've been warned!

Send all your questions to Glew at glewkimlaw@yahoo.com. 
Remember: Better Call Glew!

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5 comments
cook
cook

iF YOU CAN NOT drink and drive,  then take the bus or a cab

Hog Sitters Rule
Hog Sitters Rule

Take if from a Retired Police Officer here COPS LIE!!! The fact of the matter is that police officers probably break the law and lie much more than those they arrest! This is the god's truth so help me. They ALL drink and Drive - They all assault their spouses or verbally abuse them - they almost all cheat on their taxes AND AND AND they all lie on the stand in court and write false reports! SO there you have the truth do what you will

Jcmcc_2000
Jcmcc_2000

definitely hire a lawyer and fight this one.  This is an all too typical tactic by OC sherriffs.  I was pulled over 4 times last year by the sherrifs for various reasons and made up infractions.  Once it was for doing 42 in a 40 zone... another time for a broken taillight that was still working.  Another time it was for "looking suspicious."  Everytime they pulled me over, it was just a reason to ask if I had been drinking (No).  I had to pass one field sobriety test.  The other three times the cops didn't even write me a ticket for whatever it was they claimed I had done. DUI is a big $$ maker for the cops and the county.  That's what your initial stop was about.  The police see you as either a criminal or a potential revenue source. 

909Jeff
909Jeff

Hence "Saturation Patrols"

When a city says they are conducting "Saturation Patrols" what it means is thet they will be putting additional police out on the streets with the intent of pulling over as many people as possible for the most minor of infraction with the hope of finding drunk drivers... Like your case driving 1 mph over, or not signaling a right turn, tapping a double yellow, tail light out cracked windshield etc etc etc... Anything to conduct a stop  so they have a reason to see if you have been drinking. 

Famous area in Orange is Santiago Canyon by the toll road... They will hang out there and pull over motorcycles for "loud tailpipes"... when they are actually trying to get the drunks coming from Cooks corner.

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