…Can Evidence Be Thrown Out?

High Beam Use According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, traffic stops are the most common reason that people have contact with law enforcement. Many people who are accused of crimes related to the possession of contraband or DWI are initially arrested after they are stopped while driving for a completely unrelated matter and searched by the police. If a stop is deemed unconstitutional, however, any evidence gathered during the stop will likely be deemed inadmissible by a court, usually resulting in the dismissal of the entire case.

The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution limits when a police officer may detain you or search your person, possessions, car, or home. In order to stop a person, police must have reasonable suspicion that unlawful activity is occurring or has recently occurred. If they do not, the stop will probably be declared invalid by a court.

A case in New Jersey recently answered the question as to whether using your high beams could justify a traffic stop. Under New Jersey law, you cannot use your high beams when you are approaching an oncoming vehicle less than 500 feet away.

In State v. Scriven, a police officer observed a car traveling in a well-lit residential area with its high beams on. Upon pulling the car over, the officer claimed that he smelled the odor of marijuana and observed items that could be drug paraphernalia in the car. He asked the defendant to step out of the vehicle, at which point the defendant indicated that he had a gun under his jacket. The defendant was later accused of unlawful possession of a weapon and several other offenses. The defense moved to suppress the evidence on the basis that the police officer did not have a constitutionally permissible basis to stop the vehicle in the first place, and the motion was granted.

On appeal, the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s ruling accepting the argument that because the officer did not see any other vehicle traveling in the opposite direction of the vehicle in which the defendant was driving, the officer did not observe a violation of New Jersey’s high beam law.

Call 973-686-9787 today for more information.

If you have been accused of a serious crime after a traffic stop led to the discovery of contraband, you should contact an attorney immediately. To schedule a free consultation with New Jersey defense attorney David Polsky, call our office today at 973-686-9787 or contact us online.