Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Illegal Police Conduct: No Violation of Failing to Signal 100 Feet Before Turn

Police love to pull people at 4:00 in the morning, and sometimes they even misapply the law. Imagine that. A recently dismissed New York DWI case is a perfect illustration of great defense work.

The DWI court (NY has specific DWI courts now) only had one single issue: they had to decide  whether the New York State Trooper had probable cause to stop defendant’s vehicle on the basis that defendant failed to properly signal his intention to turn thereby violating V.T.L. §1163(b). 

Do you always have signal your intent to turn your car?
When do you have signal your intent to turn your car?

People v. Brandt is a August 2018 DWI that Explains NY VTL §1163(b)

In New York you have two very different situations to apply or not apply VTL section 1163. One situation is where you are continuously traveling and then wish to turn. In this case you must signal your intent to turn within 100 feet of the turn.
"The defendant raises an issue concerning the validity of the initial stop for failing to begin signaling an intention to turn ‘during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.” 

What the defendant did was come to a complete stop at a RED light, and then use his signal to turn.

The defendant in this case says that he was well within the law and his right to pull up to a red light, stop, and while stationary, and in the proper lane, signal his intent to turn, followed by a lawful right hand turn, without being in violation of the law. 
The whole of the remaining DWI investigation and charges came after the stop for failing to signal in time.

The DWI charges hinged on whether this was in fact a legal stop of a car (probable cause) OR was the police conduct illegal and unlawful?

Understanding NYS V.T.L. §1163(b): The Turning Law

Two Parts to 1163: One part of the law states NO turn unless it can be made with reasonable safety.

Was the turn a safe turn?
No person shall turn a vehicle at an intersection unless the vehicle is in proper position upon the roadway as required in section eleven hundred sixty, or turn a vehicle to enter a private road or driveway, or otherwise turn a vehicle from a direction course or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.
Part two of 1163 states NO turn without appropriate signaling.

Was there appropriate signaling? 
No person shall so turn any vehicle without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided 

This car was at rest (stopped) at a red light. Then the motorist put on his blinker. This car was not in motion continuously, and about to make a turn while in motion.

FINAL OUTCOME: The court agreed with the motorist that his use of a turn signal was appropriate and legal based upon the fact that his car was at a red light stopped before turning.

The motorist was charged illegally with violating VTL 1163 (b).
A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
However, this Court finds that V.T.L. §1163(b) does not apply to the facts here, and finds instead that it applies to motor vehicles continuously traveling just prior to effectuating a turn.

Why was this car pulled over illegally using VTL 1163 (b) by the New York State Trooper?

In my opinion, two reasons:

Reason One: It was October 31, 2017. Halloween is one of the busiest DWI holidays. There's something about putting on a mask and getting wasted. It just appeals to many people.

Reason Two: It was October 31, 2017 at 4:00 am. Nothing good is going on at the wee hours of the morning. Police are looking for people out after a long night of parties.

Every DWI is different but each piece of evidence and all charging documents need to be scrutinized.

Newman and Cyr is a boutique DWI and traffic defense firm located in Ithaca, NY and serving the Finger Lakes region.


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