MISSING FRONT LICENSE PLATE could be a reason why you stopped by police as part of prosecution for a Los Angeles DUI. The police have to show to the court that there was a proper reason to stop or approach the DUI driver and that there was a proper reason to arrest that driver. The attack on the legality of the stop or arrest is based on the 4th amendment which protects citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures”. You will need the help of a skillful Los Angeles DUI lawyer to properly raise and address this important issue.
Generally speaking, most of the times, Los Angeles DWI lawyers attack legality of the stop rather than legality of the arrest. That’s because most people drive better than they perform on field sobriety test. Even sober people often fail some of the field sobriety tests, while impaired drivers often drive without violating any laws. Of course, impairment is not required for a VC23152(b) prosecution because it is entirely based on the alcohol level.
If the stop of your vehicle that resulted in your Los Angeles DUI arrest is based on a bogus or questionable reason, you will need the help of a DUI Lawyer Los Angeles to argue to the court that the stop of your vehicle is a violation of the 4th amendment. Here, we are addressing a narrow issue of stop when your car was missing front license plate. If a motion to suppress evidence of such illegal stop is granted, your DUI case is likely to be dismissed. Once defense raises the search and seizure issue in a motion, the People have to justify the stop and the arrest because under the 4th amendment, any warrantless search is presumed unreasonable.
In most Los Angeles DUI investigation, once the officer justifies the stop, the subsequent arrest is usually justified on the suspected driver’s failure to perform field sobriety test and presence of other objective signs of intoxication such as the smell of alcohol and/or red watery eyes. Since the justification for and arrest is only a probable cause, it is rarely can be used successfully as a basis for a search and seizure motion. Instead, DUI attorneys in Los Angeles focus mainly on the legality of the stop. Some stops are easily justified, while others, such as missing front license plate, are not. You will need the help of a skillful DUI lawyer in Los Angeles to determine if the stop is based on a valid reason.
Here, I am focusing on a stop based missing front license plate.
Generally speaking, in California, when a vehicle is missing front license plate, the police officer is justified in stopping such vehicle. However, when the vehicle plate is issued by a different jurisdiction where one license plate is only required, the officer stop is invalid even if he believes that all jurisdictions require two license plates. This is called a mistake of law and it is great way to attack the legality of the stop based on several great decisions from Federal and California jurisdiction (People v. Reyes, 196 Cal . App. 4th 856). My favorite quote is from Reyes (11th Circuit decision) “We . . . note the fundamental unfairness of holding citizens to `the traditional rule that ignorance of the law is no excuse’ [citation] while allowing those `entrusted to enforce’ the law to be ignorant of it.”