Can items found in a traffic stop be used in court?
In Indiana, the evidence obtained in a traffic stop based on an unreasonable mistake of law by the police officer cannot be used to obtain a conviction.
In Darringer v. State, the Indiana Court of Appeals determined that the trial court abused its discretion in an operating while intoxicated case by admitting evidence obtained during a traffic stop where the State failed to prove the stop was based on reasonable suspicion that the defendant committed a traffic violation or that the police officer made an objectively reasonable mistake justifying the stop. The police office pulled over the car because it did have a license plate on the bumper. After the officer made the traffic stop, he noticed a temporary tag taped to car’s rear window but mistakenly believed the statute required the tag to be placed on the bumper. However, effective July 1, 2013, Indiana law allows for interim license plates to be displayed on the left side of the rear window of the vehicle that is clearly visible and unobstructed. Therefore, the court concluded the officer stopped the car based on an unreasonable mistake of law and reversed the conviction for operating while intoxicated.
With over 30 years of experience, Steven Knecht is familiar with the possible defenses to operating while intoxicated and other criminal charges. If you find yourself having been arrested, you should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer such as Steven Knecht to help you fight the State.