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U.S. Supreme Court to hear drug case challenging traffic stop

When it comes to drunk driving charges, most defendants only think about the evidence against them. They may think they need to plead guilty because a breath or blood test shows that they were over the legal limit. But test results can be challenged, as can other aspects of the interaction with the arresting officer.

For instance, many DUI defendants choose to challenge the legitimacy of the traffic stop itself. If you can prove that the officer did not have a legitimate reason to pull you over in the first place, it could jeopardize the entire case against you. The same would be true if a traffic stop resulted in the discovery of drugs or other contraband.

Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case dealing with just such an issue. The case originally dates back to 2009, when two men were pulled over by a law enforcement officer in North Carolina.

The officer pulled over their Ford Escort because only one brake light was working. In some jurisdictions, this would definitely be a violation justifying a traffic stop. What the officer did not know, however, was that it is legal to have just one functioning brake light in North Carolina.

Acting on his ignorance of the law, the officer pulled over the vehicle. Eventually, he conducted a search of the car and discovered cocaine. The state Supreme Court ruled in late 2012 that the stop was still valid even though the officer did not know the law. The case will soon go before the U.S. Supreme Court, where many civil rights groups are hoping that the lower Court’s ruling will be rejected.

Average Americans are expected to know and obey the law. Neither real nor feigned ignorance is a legitimate excuse for breaking the law in most cases. Why should law enforcement officers be held to a lower standard?

Source:, "US Supreme Court To Rule On Cops Who Get Law Wrong," Aug. 4, 2014

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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