Erie DUI Defense – Judge Says Girard DUI Stop Illegal: All Charges Dropped
December 12, 2010 | Posted in DUI
By Tim George
Erie & Meadville DUI Attorney & Criminal Defense Lawyer
An Erie County Judge recently granted an Erie DUI defense lawyer’s request to suppress all evidence obtained after a motorist was stopped by police and arrested on DUI charges and drug charges. The ruling, filed on November 8, 2010, followed lengthy suppression and preliminary hearings which focused on why the police followed a motorist for more than four miles on an early Friday morning last spring through Fairview Township and Girard Township before stopping him at about 3:00 a.m.
The police officer testified that the motorist crossed over the center yellow line and the white fog line on three or four separate occasions. During this time, the officer also said that the motorist weaved within the westbound lane of State Route 5. When the motorist turned onto Route 18, near his home, the police stopped him. After the driver allegedly failed field sobriety tests and admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the evening, the police questioned the passenger — who subsequently retrieved a marijuana pipe from the center console.
Erie DUI defense attorney Tim George argued that the mobile video recorder (MVR) which was mounted on the dashboard of the police cruiser told a different story. The Court agreed. In the decision written by the Court , the Judge found that:
“Next, with regard to suspicion of DUI, while [the officer’s] testimony of [the motorist’s] driving on certain sides of his lane comports with the video evidence, under the totality of the circumstances test, the officer’s conclusion the [motorist] was driving under the influence is not a reasonable conclusion. [The motorist] was not weaving, as one customarily defines weaving – side to side motions that are close in time and space. [The motorist] was simply following the natural path of Route 5, which contains bends, dips, rises, and patchwork…the conduct was nothing more than ordinary driving.”
Commonwealth v. J.A.S., Erie County No. 1795-2010.
In light of these findings, the Court ultimately held that the police “did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that either [alleged violations] of the Motor Vehicle Code had been violated. Thus, the officers conducted an unconstitutional stop… and all the evidence obtained as a result of that stop must be suppressed.” _Opinion
at p. 3._
A month later, the District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss all of the charges filed against the motorist, including the drug offense. This enabled the motorist to retain his driver’s license and avoid the possibility of prison or probation, as well as all of the mandatory fines and costs associated with DUI and drug convictions.
Tim George defends allegations of DUI, reckless driving, careless driving, accidents involving injury or property damage, and other serious charges like homicide by motor vehicle, manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, retail theft, burglary, robbery, and sexual assault. He appears in Magisterial District Courts (often called District Justice offices) throughout northwest Pennsylvania, including Erie, Millcreek, Fairview, Girard, Albion, Springfield, Platea, McKean, Edinboro, Lawrence Park, Wesleyville, Harborcreek, North East, Corry, Meadville, Sandy Lake, Conneaut Lake, Franklin, Oil City, and Warren. He has also defended people in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Crawford County, Warren County, Venango County, Mercer County, Clarion County, and Jefferson County, PA. He has argued cases on appeal before the Commonwealth Court, Superior Court, and Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
If you or someone close to you was recently arrested for DUI in Erie, Fairview, Girard, Springfield, Corry, Union City, North East, Meadville, or elsewhere in northwest Pennsylvania, call (814) 835-0400 to discuss your case today.