Poweshiek, IA- An Iowa man is going to get a second chance to beat a DUI charge after the state Supreme Court decided a Polk County officer violated his constitutional rights and ordered a new trial.
The case goes back to the 2010 arrest of Tommy Tyler Jr., who was pulled over for having an obstructed license plate. During the course of Tyler’s traffic stop, the officer noticed an odor of alcohol and asked Tyler to submit to a breathalyzer test, which showed his blood alcohol level .14, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
The officer in the case stated he pulled Tyler over because the license plate cover on his Cadillac Escalade was tinted and the officer stated he was unable to read it.
Tyler appealed his case, insisting that one of his constitutional rights were violated when the officer pulled him over.
The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects everyone from unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement. The amendment prevents police from pulling over a driver with the intent of discovering if they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol without having probable cause, meaning the driver must violate traffic or other laws before an officer has the right to conduct a stop.
Last month, the Iowa Supreme Court determined that Tyler’s Fourth Amendment right was violated and the arresting officer had no right to pull Tyler over, which effectively invalidated the evidence gathered in the case.
In 2011, Tyler tried to get the evidence thrown out of court, however an appeals court denied his motion, but he kept pursuing the case.
According to WHO TV, Tyler believes the traffic stop may have had something to do with this race. He said, “I tell you the racial profiling thing, gotta stop. Black man, white man, black man, white Escalade. c’mon.” Tyler added, “If they just stop and think and…back off of that. I mean they use anything just to stop you just to go farther and it’s not a good thing.”
However, Johnston’s police chief said an internal investigation did not reveal that any racial profiling led Tyler’s arrest.
In their decision the Iowa Supreme Court said the evidence indicated that Tyler did not have tinted plates. The court also noted that the arresting officer was able to call in the license plate number after he pulled Tyler over.
When establishing a DUI defense, an Iowa DUI attorney will first question if the officer had probable cause to pull a driver over. Police, even if they suspect a driver is drunk cannot go on a “fishing expedition.”
Challenging probable cause is among the many defense strategies in an Iowa DUI attorney’s arsenal. There are a number of other strategies an experienced attorney can employ to help a person avoid a DUI conviction, such as challenging the results of field sobriety tests or breathalyzer. With the assistance of a legal professional, alleged DUI offenders have the opportunity to stop a conviction or plea for a reduced sentence.