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California Appeals and Supreme Court Affirm DUI Charges Followed a Lawful Stop

People v. Raymond C. (2008 DJDAR 18112)

Traffic stop is reasonable where juvenile failed to place temporary operating permit in preferred rear location of vehicle

In this companion case to People v. Hernandez (Dec 12, 2008, S150038), the Court concluded that the officer acted with sufficient particularized suspicion to justify the traffic stop.

In this case, the officer saw the defendant driving a vehicle without a license plate or a temporary operating permit in the rear window. Otherwise, the car was being driven lawfully. Although there was a temporary operating permit on the front window, the officer could not see this permit when he effectuated the stop. In the course of the stop, the officer noticed the driver was exhibiting objective symptoms of intoxication and subsequently arrested him for driving under the influence. Defendant’s motion to suppress was denied and the Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court held that the facts of this particular case supported the officer’s reasonable suspicion that the car may be being driven in violation of vehicular license requirements. It distinguished People v. Hernandez because in that case the officer did see a temporary operating permit and stopped the suspected vehicle anyway.

Here, the officer was not able to see a permit before effectuating a stop and the California DUI charges held.

The Court held that an officer may put himself in danger by having to maneuver his vehicle to observe the front windshield for a temporary operating permit. Also, the reasonableness of an officer’s decision to stop a vehicle does not turn on the availability of less intrusive techniques. Nor is an officer required to eliminate all innocent explanations that might account for the facts supporting a particularized suspicion.

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