DUI Dismissed due to Probable Cause Issues
Driver stopped for not signaling lane change in a round-about intersection in Johnson County and charged with DUI. FACTS: Officer received prior tip that driver had "fallen asleep" in a McDonald's Drive-thru late at night. Driver "came to" and had driven off before officer's arrived on scene. Prior to trial, we filed a Motion to Suppress based on a bad stop. Before trial, the prosecutor dismissed the Failure to Signal violation since a turn signal is NOT required at round-about intersections (these are common in western JOCO and can be confusing for some). However, the DUI charge remained on the trial docket as the prosecutor refused to dismiss. STRATEGY: file Motion to Suppress evidence arguing the stop was illegal as NO probable cause existed to stop driver at Round-About intersectin. TRIAL: the arresting officer testifIed that he conducted a "welfare" stop on the driver based on the report from the McDonald's employee that she "saw driver passed out in Drive-Thru." This eye-witness was not present at trial. Trial court allowed officer's testimony regarding his discussion with the employee despite "hearsay" objections (out of court statement made by declarant to prove the truth of the matter asserted, ie that driver was 'passed out' in drive-thru). Trial Court ruled the stop was illegal as there was no probable cause to stop vehicle based on the eye witness testimony alone. The officer did not observe bad driving and the driver did not indicate he was in need of help while en route to his house. Thus, the "public welfare" exception to warrantless searches did NOT apply. DUI charge dismissed. NOTE: client would have lost his CDL (Commercial Driver's License) for life if convicted.
Practice area(s): Corporate / Incorporation