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Illinois Appellate Court Refuses to Find Officer’s Mistake of Law to be Made in Good Faith

traffic stopThe United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, which means you cannot be stopped and you and your property cannot be searched without just cause. As set forth in State v. Walker, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure has been applied to suppress evidence obtained during an inappropriate search. As such, if you were stopped without cause while driving a motor vehicle and subsequently charged with a DUI due to evidence obtained during the stop, the state may not be able to use any of that evidence against you. An experienced Illinois DUI attorney can analyze the situation surrounding your detainment and the applicable laws to determine whether stopped you without reasonable suspicion.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the suspect in Walker was stopped for making an improper left turn. His license was suspended at the time he was stopped, and he was ticketed. The suspect filed a motion to suppress evidence from the stop, arguing the officer lacked reasonable suspicion the suspect violated the law, and that any evidence obtained via the stop violated the suspect’s right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. The trial court heard testimony that suspect made a left hand turn into the far lane of a road that had two lanes of traffic in each direction. The court also heard testimony, however, that the applicable motor vehicle code stated a driver should turn into the near lane when possible, but did not prohibit a driver from turning into the far lane. As such, the court granted the suspect’s motion to suppress. The state appealed, arguing the officer did have reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant, and that the exclusionary rule should not be applied regardless. The Appellate Court of Illinois affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Appellate Court of Illinois Ruling

On appeal, the state argued the officer who stopped the suspect reasonably believed the suspect had violated the law based on the language of the applicable code and therefore, the stop was legal. The state also argued that the court should have admitted the evidence found during the stop regardless of whether the stop was legal. The court stated that an officer is permitted to stop a vehicle if he believes the driver committed a traffic violation, but disagreed with the state’s contention the suspect violated the traffic code by making a wide turn. Regarding the suppression of the evidence, the court noted that under Illinois law, the benefits of suppression of evidence obtained during an illegal search and seizure must outweigh the detriments for the rule to be appropriate. A court evaluating whether to suppress the evidence must evaluate whether the officer was acting in good faith and only acted negligently, and if so, the evidence should be admitted. In applying this analysis, the court held that where an officer’s actions defy the plain language of a statute, as they did here, he cannot be considered to be acting in good faith. As such, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Illinois DUI Attorney Today

If you were stopped without cause and subsequently charged with a DUI you may be able to preclude the court from using any evidence found during the stop. If you believe you were stopped inappropriately you should retain an experienced Illinois DUI attorney as soon as possible, to analyze the facts of your case and assist you in protecting your rights. Harvatin Law Offices, PC aggressively advocates for individuals charged with DUI throughoutIllinois. Contact our office at 217.525.0520, to schedule a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Kansas Courts Rule Computer Generated Translation Insufficient to Confer Consent Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, July 12, 2018.

The Automobile Exception to the 4th Amendment Does Not Permit Warrantless Entry of a Home or Curtilage to Search a Vehicle Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, June 14, 2018.

Florida Appeals Court Holds Warrant Required to Search Car’s “Black Box” Illinois DUI Lawyer Blog, May 1, 2017.

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