Types of traffic stops by police officers are common question at my office.
Everyone seems to think that you can be pulled over “when you do
something wrong” and that’s true but the Vehicle and Traffic
Law goes beyond that and makes rules to protect driver’s. A general
understanding of the law will help you be prepared as you drive the roads
of New York State and help you protect your rights.
The police may NOT stop a vehicle on a public highway for a routine traffic
check. ONLY when the officer has “reasonable suspicion” to
believe that a violation or crime is committed may the vehicle be stopped.
People v Ingle, 36 NY 2d 413. A police officer’s good faith but
erroneous belief that a person committed a traffic infraction (failing
to signal when exiting a private driveway) will not support a stop. Byer
v Jackson, 241 AD 2d 943.
In New York Traffic Court either at the Traffic Violation Bureau (TVB)
or in the local justice Courts, the Courts must evaluate police conduct
and determine whether the action taken was justified in its inception
and at every subsequent stage of the encounter. People v Nicodemus, 247
AD 2d 833. However, a police officer’s failure to issue a ticket
for a traffic infraction that was the basis for the stop does not defeat
probable cause. People v Ferraiolo, 309 AD 2d 981.
In a DWI arrest the office first needs a reason to pull you over. Most
police officers will find a violation of the vehicle and traffic law such
as speeding, weaving out of lane or as a last resort a police officer
may use an equipment violation if they suspect a motorist is driving DWI.
Importantly, weaving or swerving IN a lane is not a traffic infraction
and does not constitute reasonable suspicion. People v Culcross, 184 Misc.
2d 67. A stop for unsafe lane change requires a driver to signal each
time when changing lanes as well as turning. People v Rice, 44 AD 3d 247.
Lastly, stopping a car and approaching it with guns drawn based upon an
anonymous report was improper, where there was no reasonable suspicion.
People v Heapps, 13 AD 3d 107.
Reasonable suspicion is the standard the police must use to pull over a
motorist. This is always the first line of attack when defending a traffic
ticket or a move serious charge such as DWI, DWAI, DUI or even traffic
stops that result in other charges such as drug or gun charges. Reasonable
Suspicion is that amount of knowledge sufficient to justify a stop.
- NEW YORK STATE TRAFFIC VIOLATION ATTORNEYS
If you have any questions about when can the police pull you over contact
one of the Westchester County criminal defense attorneys at
Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP. We offer a
free consultation. Our attorneys regularly appear in the traffic Courts of New York State
including the New York TVB and the local justice Courts. Our main office
is in White Plains, New York but we also have offices in the Putnam and
Our attorneys work to protect your license and insurance rates.
Good luck on the road.