At approximately 14 minutes past midnight on March 6, 1999, Rochester Police Officer KB was on routine patrol on Lyell Avenue when he first observed a known male prostitute enter defendant’s red pickup truck which was parked in a nearby parking lot. When the vehicle exited the parking lot, Officer KB turned his patrol car around, followed the vehicle, and proceeded to run a registration check of the license plate on his multiple data terminal, whereupon he discovered an expired registration. Upon stopping the vehicle, the officer had defendant, the driver, exit his vehicle and then placed him in the backseat of the patrol car. According to Officer KB, this action was taken in order to separate the occupants while he investigated prostitution sex activity. Officer KB proceeded to conduct his prostitution investigation. In doing so, he noticed indicia of the driver’s intoxication, including bloodshot, watery eyes, mumbled and slurred speech, and flushed complexion, and he detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverage and drugs. Officer KB then had defendant exit the patrol car and perform various sobriety tests. Upon defendant’s failure of a number of these tests, the officer arrested him for driving while intoxicated (DWI). The 10 minute investigation yielded no evidence of prostitution and no charges related to prostitution were ever filed against either occupant of the vehicle. Defendant was placed under criminal arrest for the Vehicle and Traffic Law violations.
Officer KB was the sole witness called to testify at the probable cause hearing. On the basis of the testimony related above, the hearing court issued a written decision granting defendant’s motion for suppression of all evidence derived from the stop, detention and arrest on the ground that reasonable suspicion for the stop and probable cause for the arrest for DWI were lacking. In so ruling, the court determined that vehicular traffic stops must be nonpretexual and that the standard for assessing whether a stop is nonpretextual is a primary motivation test.
The charges were dismissed, on motion of defendant, after the People verified that no other evidence existed upon which to proceed with the criminal prosecution. This appeal ensued.
On appeal, counsel reiterated their respective positions set forth in the briefs submitted on this appeal and further cited new case law developments in this area since those documents were prepared. The People’s main contention is that the hearing court erred in finding the stop of the defendant’s vehicle to be illegal, given that the police officer’s subjective motivation or intention is of no moment. Defendant’s position is that the law in New York State supports the court’s ruling since it is long settled in this State that vehicular stops based upon pretext are outlawed. Neither petite or grand larceny were involved.
The authority to interpret State constitutional provisions so as to confer additional protections upon citizens of this State than afforded under the Federal Constitution is vested in the Court of Appeals. The decision in this case, according to the Supreme Court, is by no means an attempt to usurp that authority.
The record in this case is clear. Admittedly, in his decision to stop defendant’s vehicle, Officer KB was primarily motivated to investigate an unfounded suspicion that prostitution activity had been, or was about to be, committed. The traffic check was no more than a pretext for conducting a criminal investigation unrelated to any observed traffic infraction. An investigative stop is such a seizure within the meaning of constitutional strictures and requires at least reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. A motor vehicle on a public highway may be stopped for specific cause or reasonable suspicion of a violation of the law or in accordance with nonarbitrary, nondiscriminatory, uniform procedures, such as at roadblocks, checkpoints and weighing stations, but mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity” will invalidate such a stop. The lower court’s determination that the stop was invalid was not improper, and as such all evidence flowing therefrom was properly suppressed.
It is not easy to fight out a DUI or DWI charge. But with the right help a viable defense can persuade the prosecution to either drop or reduce the charges against you or a love one. A New York DWI Defense Lawyer can educate you about your options in order to prevent a conviction and suspension of your license. Don’t have weapons in your car.
A New York DWI Defense Attorney can help you sift through the available evidence to overturn the charges. Without a New York DWI Defense Attorney you may lose your rights.
Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its team of respected New York County Criminal Lawyers has a wealth of experience in handling DWI or DUI cases. It has convenient offices throughout the New York County area. Our New York County DUI Lawyers are all you need to mount a successful defense
In addition to New York County Law, Stephen Bilkis and Associates can recommend a New York County Drunk Driving Lawyer to help you.