Illegal Stop Leads to Suppression of Evidence in State College DUI

Unconstitutional Traffic Stop

In a recent State College DUI case, a police officer conducted a routine traffic stop for a speeding violation.  The officer followed the driver for approximately four miles and clocked the driver’s speed at 53.7 miles per hour in a posted 45 mile per hour zone.  During the traffic stop, the officer suspected the driver was under the influence of alcohol, and the driver was later arrested and charged for DUI.

The man hired an experienced State College DUI attorney to provide representation.  In this case, because of the manner in which the officer determined speed, Pennsylvania law states that a person cannot be convicted of speeding in a less than 55 mile per hour zone unless the person is exceeds the speed limit by less than 10 miles per hour.  The speed limit in this case was 45 miles per hour, so the driver had to be driving at least 55 miles per hour in order to be guilty of speeding.

Suppression of DUI Evidence

The man’s criminal defense attorney filed a pretrial motion to suppress and argue that the officer did not have probable cause to conduct the traffic stop for the speeding violation.  The DUI lawyer argued that if the traffic stop was unconstitutional, then all evidence obtained thereafter must be suppressed.  The prosecutor argued that the officer didn’t know the speeding law, so he made an honest mistake.  The problem with this argument is that Pennsylvania courts have routinely rejected the “good faith exception,” meaning the officer’s ignorance of the law did not justify his actions.  The Centre County judge ruled in favor of the defense and suppressed all evidence found as a result of the traffic stop that violated the driver’s constitutional rights.

Driving Under the Influence is a crime in Pennsylvania that often leads to accidents that injure and may even kill innocent people.  Pennsylvania takes these cases seriously and has laws that impose severe mandatory minimum sentences in DUI cases.  While society must aggressively prosecute these cases to protect the public, that does not mean that constitutional rights can be violated in the process.  A violation of the DUI law cannot supersede the protections set forth in our constitutions.