Probable Cause for a Traffic Stop in New York
Probable cause is an essential concept in criminal law. In the context of a traffic stop, it refers to the legal standard that police officers must meet before they can pull over a driver. It requires that the officer has a reasonable belief that a driver has committed a traffic violation, is driving while intoxicated, or has engaged in some other illegal activity. Probable cause is an important protection for individuals against unreasonable search and seizure, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In New York, police officers are required to follow strict guidelines when making a traffic stop. Being pulled over by the police can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you feel there was no probable when you were pulled over and arrested for DWI, contact an experienced New York DWI lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience fighting for our client’s rights, we have the skill and knowledge to help ensure that your rights have been protected.Unreasonable Search and Seizure
Unreasonable search and seizure is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which provides protection against such actions by law enforcement officials. In the context of probable cause for a stop in New York, unreasonable search and seizure refers to a situation where a police officer conducts a search or seizure without proper legal authority or justification. This can include situations where the officer stops an individual without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
In New York, the standard for a traffic stop is "reasonable suspicion." This means that an officer must have a "particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity." However, if the officer wants to conduct a more extensive search, such as a search of the vehicle or a breathalyzer test, they must have probable cause. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion and requires more evidence to justify the search. As an experienced New York DWI lawyer can explain, the legality of a stop is often a crucial issue in DWI cases, as the evidence obtained during the stop may be used to support a DWI charge.Absence of Probable Cause
In New York, a police officer can pull over a driver if they have probable cause to believe that the driver has committed a traffic violation or other offense. Common reasons for a stop include speeding, running a red light, or driving erratically. The police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the driver has committed a violation or offense based on specific and articulable facts. This means that the officer must be able to point to facts that support their suspicion, such as the driver’s behavior or the condition of the vehicle.
When a police officer does not have probable cause to pull over a driver, any evidence obtained during the stop can be suppressed in court. This means that the prosecution cannot use that evidence against the defendant in a trial. In a DWI case, this can make a significant difference in the outcome of the case. If the evidence obtained during the stop is the only evidence of intoxication, such as the results of a breathalyzer test, and that evidence is suppressed, the prosecution may not have enough evidence to obtain a conviction. It is critical to have an experienced DWI attorney in New York on your team if you have DWI charges as they will be able to analyze every aspect of the case, including the traffic stop and arrest to ensure that your constitutional rights were not violated.Notable Case About New York Probable Cause for Stop and DWI
People v. Sims, 201 A.D.3d 1248 (N.Y. App. Div. 2022) is a recent case in which the court considered the issue of probable cause for a stop in a DWI case. The defendant was charged with driving while intoxicated and moved to suppress evidence obtained during a traffic stop, arguing that the stop was not supported by probable cause.
In this case a police officer observed the defendant's vehicle drifting onto the shoulder of the road, then crossing back over the center line. The officer then pulled the defendant over and administered field sobriety tests, which the defendant allegedly failed. The defendant was subsequently arrested and charged with DWI. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained during the traffic stop, arguing that the officer did not have probable cause to pull him over. Specifically, the defendant argued that his momentary drift onto the shoulder of the road did not provide the officer with reasonable suspicion to believe that he was driving while intoxicated.
The trial court denied the defendant's motion to suppress, finding that the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull the defendant over based on the defendant's erratic driving. The defendant appealed. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's decision, holding that the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull the defendant over based on the defendant's erratic driving. The court noted that the officer's observation of the defendant's vehicle drifting onto the shoulder of the road and crossing the center line provided reasonable suspicion to believe that the defendant was driving while intoxicated.
This case highlights the importance of probable cause for a stop in a DWI case. Without probable cause, any evidence obtained during the traffic stop may be suppressed, potentially resulting in a dismissal of the charges. In this case, the court found that the officer had probable cause to pull the defendant over based on the defendant's erratic driving, ultimately leading to the defendant's conviction for DWI.Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates
Probable cause for a stop is an essential concept in New York law enforcement. A police officer must have specific and articulable facts to justify a stop, and any evidence obtained during an illegal stop may be suppressed in court. In DWI cases, the legality of the stop is often a crucial issue, as the evidence obtained during the stop may be used to support a DWI charge. It is essential to understand your rights during a police stop and to consult with an experienced DWI attorney serving New York if you are facing a DWI charge. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.