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Court Discusses Search and Seizure in Traffic Stop


The plaintiff in the case is the People of the State of New York. The defendant in the case is Craig W. Dixon. The case is being heard in the District Court of Suffolk County, First District. Judge Howard M. Bergson is hearing the case.

The defendant, Craig W. Dixon has been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), refusing to submit to a field sobriety test, and failing to maintain a line. A Dunaway, Huntley, and refusal hearing has been held in the matter to determine the evidence found against the defendant that will be admissible in trial.

Case Facts

The only witness in the case was Officer Gerrits, who has worked as a police officer in the Suffolk County Police Department for 14 years. He was on duty on the 22nd of September, 2006, when he responded to a radio call at 5:50 a.m. The call was made anonymously from the Arkies Bakers. The caller stated that a possibly intoxicated male was driving a gray Ford with the license plate number AIJ-2301.

The officer went to the area where the call came from and when he arrived in the area, he saw a gray Ford SUV with the same license plate number that had been given. He watched the vehicle leave the parking lot and go north on Route 111.

Officer Gerrits followed the car as he believed it was the vehicle that the caller had phoned in. He followed the car for about two and a half miles and notices that it went over the double yellow line twice. When the vehicle crossed the lines a third time, Officer Gerrits put on his lights and pulled the vehicle over.

Officer Gerrits approached the vehicle and asked for the driver’s license and registration. The officer noticed a smell of alcohol as the defendant was retrieving the documents. He asked the driver if he had been drinking and the defendant stated that he had not. The officer noted that the defendant’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot. The officer asked the defendant to step out of the car. Officer Gerrits states that the defendant was unsteady on his feet and had to lean against the car for support. He asked the defendant to perform a field sobriety test, but the defendant stated that he didn’t want to.

Officer Gerrits determined that the defendant was intoxicated and placed him under arrest. He took him to the patrol car and asked the defendant for his social security number. The defendant replied that he needed a lawyer. The officer did not question the defendant any further and took him to the precinct.

The officer processed the defendant and read him the chemical test request. The defendant refused the chemical test and signed the document and writing the word refuse in the correct location.

Court Decision

A traffic stop allows a limited seizure of any person who is in the vehicle. This seizure must be justified. In this case, the officer had probable cause to believe that the defendant had been consuming alcohol. The evidence that has been obtained in the case against the defendant from the arrest is admissible in court. The evidence showing the defendant refusing to submit to the field sobriety test and the chemical test may be admitted as well.

At the law offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates we offer free consultations to those in need of legal advice, whether you have been charged with a DWI or marijuana possession. Our offices are located throughout New York City for your convenience. You may contact us at any time to set up your appointment and come in and discuss your case.

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