Burlington, VT- Before a police officer can pull a driver over for suspicion of drunken driving, they need a valid reason to conduct that stop, often referred to as probable cause. It is an important technicality that is often ignored or violated by eager law enforcement officers. A recent case before the Vermont Supreme Court demonstrates the importance of probable cause, and how it can impact the outcome a DUI case.
In 2012, police in Brandon, Vt., pulled Wayne Hutchins over because they alleged he failed to use his turn signal 100 feet before making a soft right turn. Hutchins was sub subsequently arrested and charged with driving under the influence.
Hutchins attempted to have evidence in his case suppressed because of the alleged illegality of his stop, but that motion was denied by a district court, according to Courtroom News.
Hutchins then decided to plead guilty to DUI charges so he would have a chance to appeal the charges. He did appeal and earlier this month, the Vermont Supreme Court dismissed his DUI charges, stating that Hutchins did not violate traffic laws by using his turn signal at a stop sign instead of 100 feet before.
The high court found that because of the layout of the road at the intersection, Hutchins was not required to use his turn signal. When turning right at the intersection in question, motorists have two choices; they can make a hard right turn onto one road or a partial right onto a different road. Hutchins made a partial right which, according to Supreme Court Justices, did not justify a traffic stop.
Probable cause is very important in any arrest whether it is for a DUI or a more serious cause. The U.S. Constitution dictates that law enforcement agencies cannot stop a person to fish for evidence of wrongdoing. They must have a legitimate reason to stop a person otherwise the arrest and the evidence gathered at an unlawful stop can be thrown out.
Our savvy Vermont DUI attorneys know your rights and will examine every detail of your case so they provide you with the best defense possible. They will work tirelessly to challenge your charges and do what they can to prevent you from being convicted of a DUI.
The penalties for driving under the influence in Vermont are harsh. A convicted DUI offender can face up to one year in jail for their first offense and lose their license for up to 90 days. What’s more, the look-back period in the state is for life, meaning any DUI conviction, no matter how long ago it was, will be a factor in any subsequent DUI penalties a person may face.
A DUI conviction won’t look good on your record so you need someone well-versed the state’s laws to build a solid defense on your behalf. If you are facing DUI charges in Burlington, you should set up a consultation with a DUI attorney immediately to begin working on your defense.
If you have been accused or charged with a dui in Florida, visit www.kevinaraudtesq.com for answers to your legal questions.