Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: Elmira Deputies Can't Make Traffic Stops for Temporary Inspection Stickers


Chemung Sheriff's Deputy Testified to Regularly Stopping Cars for Temporary Inspection Stickers

A local drug case in the Town of Southport, Chemung county was recently reversed by the Appellate Bench because the deputy had made a STOP of the car based upon a temporary inspection sticker. The court stated in People v. Ramonn Driscoll that law enforcement can't exercise it's idle curiosity to stop cars.

The traffic stop ended with the discovery of crack cocaine in the car, and the driver (who fled the scene) was charged, and then plead guilty to the charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 3rd degree. Since the stop was illegal (unlawful), all evidence (the crack cocaine) uncovered from that stop was now suppressed from use by the prosecution.

The practice of stopping any vehicle with a temporary inspection sticker, without more, represents impermissible "idle curiosity" as to the sticker's validity rather than the "reasonable suspicion" of illegality needed to effect a traffic stop (People v. Ingle, 36 NY2d 413, 420 [1975]; see People v. Sobotker, 43 NY2d 559, 563-564 [1978]; People v. Simone, 39 NY2d 818, 819 [1976]). 
                                                                         People v. Ramonn Driscoll, Appellate Div., 3rd Dept.
                                                                         The New York Law Journal

The the Chemung County deputy sheriff had stated under oath  that his regular practice was to stop cars with temporary inspection stickers. Traffic stops must be lawful. Police must have at the very least the reasonable suspicion of something illegal going on, and not just a hunch or a feeling or a whim or as in Driscoll, an idle curiosity.

The appellate Court reminded us all that for a lawful (constitutional) stop by police in New York state there must be probable (REASONABLE) cause.

In order for a traffic stop to pass constitutional muster, before making the stop, "a police officer [must have] probable cause to believe that the driver of an automobile has committed a traffic violation" (People v. Robinson, 97 NY2d 341, 349 [2001]; accord People v. Guthrie, 25 NY3d 130, 133 [2015]). An officer has probable cause to effect a stop if he or she can "articulate credible facts establishing reasonable cause to believe that someone has violated a law" (People v. Robinson, 97 NY2d at 353-354; see People v. King, 137 AD3d at 1425).

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