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 traffic stop for a speeding violation.  The officer had followed the driver for approximately four miles and, using the police car’s speedometer, 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 smelled alcohol on the driver and then conducted a DUI investigation.  The driver was arrested for DUI, and, after the blood test results were received, the driver was charged with a 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 argued that the officer did not have probable cause to conduct the traffic stop for the speeding violation becuase the man was not driving more than 10 miles per hour over the posted limit.  The DUI lawyer argued that if the traffic stop was unconstitutional and therefore all evidence found after during the traffic stop 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 was not an excuse for his violation of the driver’s constituional rights.  Ignorance of the law is not a defense for a normal person, and it should not be a defense for a police officer either.  The Centre County judge agreed with the defense and suppressed all evidence found after the uncsontitutional traffic stop.  The charges against the driver were then dismissed.  The driver would then be eligible to file an expungement to have the dimissed charges removed from his records.