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Hmm. What was your first clue?

When I clerked for the Perry County Court of Common Pleas in the late 90's there was a great old story about an epic DUI.  A local farmer apparently hopped into his tireless jalopy and decided to go for a ride around New Bloomfield.  When I use the word “tireless”, I'm not referring to the ironic longevity of an old Ford.  I mean the car had no tires.  Yup, you read that right.  No tires.  Just rims.

It was late night and though the car apparently couldn't break 20 or so miles per hour, the rim on road contact produced huge plumes of sparks from all four wheel wells and raised an incredible racket.  He didn't get far before he was pulled over and was discovered to be – uhm – gone.  The half-empty bottle of Everclear on the passenger seat an icing on the easiest DUI cake the DA would get that year.  An interesting legal issue arose on appeal, however.  The car had a valid inspection and registration, hadn't exceeded the speed limit, hadn't deviated from the lane of travel, hadn't swerved, obeyed all traffic signals, no accident, no injuries, no damage to person or property, etc.  His lawyer appealed the reasonable suspicion to make the stop more out of a duty to do so on behalf of his client rather than an actual hope to overturn the conviction.  Suffice it to say, it was an unsuccessful appeal.  As an interesting aside, both lawyers and the Superior Court clerk all elected to write their briefs and opinion in prose.  The trial judge elected to have the final ruling from the Superior Court – a poem – framed and affixed to the hallway of the third floor of the courthouse.

Equipment defects or vehicle safety problems sometimes prove the basis for an officer to pull you over.  A dozen examples of such defects from reported appelate cases include the following:

Tires without insufficient tread *cough* tread

Damaged, “starburst” or cracked windshield

Outside mirror or other required equipment missing (e.g., fender, bumper, tire)

Window tint too dark

Failure to wear seatbelt

Tag not mounted in proper place

Dim or broken tail light

Excessive smoke – or sparks – from under the vehicle

Passenger hanging out of the window or gesturing to other motorists

Honking the horn inappropriately at night in a residential area

Improper dealer tag or “drive out” tag on vehicle

Loud or missing muffler

These correctable items (which likely would never merit a pullover during morning rush hour) have led to many late night traffic stops that ultimately resulted in DUI arrests.  Remember, the officer only needs a single reason for coming in contact with you and your car.  His or her real purpose in stopping you is to see if you are impaired or have other smells, visible or audible evidence of possible impairment.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Dauphin, Cumberland or York county contact the Quinlan Law Group today. Consultations are always free and we take pride in helping good people through tough times.

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Quinlan Law Group, LLC is committed to answering your questions about DUI and Criminal Defense law issues in Dauphin County, Cumberland County and York County, PA.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.