I recently read an article in The Aspen Times about a woman in Colorado that blew a .23 at following a DUI arrest but her case was thrown out at trial. Apparently this is news worthy in Aspen but in reality, it is not, it is just the law working the way it is supposed to. You see, in order to lawfully stop a citizen’s car, a police officer needs R.A.S. Reasonable Articulable Suspicion that a criminal or traffic offense is being committed. While this level of suspicion is low, (ie., it is not the normal criminal standard “beyond a reasonable doubt” which is a high standard) it still requires some “objective” proof on the part of the law enforcement officer “Leo”. That is to say, that LEO cannot just subjectively say, I don’t like this person’s looks so I’m going to pull them over, or he just crossed the white shoulder line for 3/10s of one second so I’m going to pull this person over for DUI. Those types of stops are not legal and a judge should suppress any evidence flowing from such an illegal stop. This is what the Judge determined in Aspen when he threw out all evidence flowing from the stop, but since the defendant blew a .23 this attracted people’s attention.
The truth is, the police can be overzealous in their attempt to bolster their DUI arrest numbers, echem, I mean, in their attempt to remove drunk drivers from the streets of Maryland and other states. Interestingly, the advent of the video cams in police cars have actually helped as many people as they convict, which is a good thing. Those people that are lawfully stopped and convicted should face the music. However when the police video camera clearly shows no violation of the traffic law, it is very nice to suppress the evidence of the illegal stop and set the defendant free. Ironically, in the Aspen case, despite the video cam showing no infraction of the law, the brass at the police station still insists on taking the position that the video camera does not “accurately reflect” what truly occurred on the street and the brass feels that the cops subjective opinion should be taken over the objective word of the video cam. Doesn’t this make you feel all safe and sure inside? Remember, the police can “see” and “say” whatever they please in the absence of video. Thank God for modern technology and for motions to suppress evidence.