Traffic Stop Delayed for Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

Traffic Stop Delayed for Dog Sniff Unconstitutional

Traffic stops once again garnered the attention of the nation’s highest court this week. In Rodriguez v. United States, SCOTUS threw out the conviction of a motorist whose traffic stop was delayed so the officer could have a dog sniff the car for drugs. By finding the delay in the traffic stop unconstitutional, SCOTUS dimmed the green light given police ten years ago in Illinois v. Caballes and limited the ability of cops to prolong detentions without facts to back them up. The 2005 Caballes Traffic Stop Decision Caballes had held that the Fourth Amendment does not require an officer to have a reasonable suspicion of drugs before having a drug-sniffing dog sniff a car. The canine investigation does not in and of itself make an otherwise lawful stop unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the dog sniff could not violate the Fourth Amendment because there was no possibility of protected activity being searched. (That is, the dog sniff revealed no information except the location of a substance no individual has a right to possess.) Caballes did not address the length of the detention because the Court “accept[ed] the state court’s conclusion that the duration of the stop in this case was entirely justified by the traffic offense and the ordinary inquiries incident to such a stop.” This factor is important because Caballes never had to address the situation where the dog sniff actually does prolong the initial traffic stop beyond what it would have taken otherwise. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting in Caballes, objected that any roadside investigation  must be limited in scope to the circumstances which justified the Fourth Amendment interference in the first place. In her...
Hearings at DMV Should Always Be Done In Person

Hearings at DMV Should Always Be Done In Person

The United States Constitution (and those of most states) contain a clause that prevents the government from denying folks “due process of law.” In the DMV context, due process means that the state cannot suspend your driver’s license permanently without first giving you the opportunity to contest it at a hearing. Lawyers call this the “right to be heard.” If you’ve been given a notice that your driver’s license will be suspended, you’ll be given a pink notice of suspension with some fine print. It advises you that your license will be suspended in 30 days if you do not request a hearing within 10 days. You can either call or write DMV to request a hearing, but either way, you should demand an in-person hearing and object to testimony by telephone. These simple techniques will help you maximize your chances of winning your hearing because they make it more difficult for DMV to establish the proof it needs to suspend your license. For example, where DMV needs a witness to appear to testify against you, they often to not actually appear if you make them show up in person. For more help with your case, see our article How to Win Your DMV Hearing and Top 20 DMV Hearing...
Undocumented Drivers Get Support from Hillary Clinton

Undocumented Drivers Get Support from Hillary Clinton

The push for granting driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers got a boost this week when Hillary Rodham Clinton’s spokesman announced that the candidate now supports issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers. The announcement reverses a rather embarrassing statement in opposition to granting these licenses during the 2008 campaign. The Department of Homeland Security estimates there are 2.8 million undocumented people in California alone. Despite the rather obvious public safety benefits from training, testing and regulating them when they get behind the wheel, a majority of Americans opposes granting them...
Wall Street Skeptical of Driverless Cars

Wall Street Skeptical of Driverless Cars

There are some signs that driverless cars are hitting some speed bumps. Equity researches at Citi are throwing some cold water on their prognosis, and earlier this month automobile insurers predicted autonomous vehicles might soon “upend” their business models (how do you evaluate risk when the age and record of the driver isn’t relevant?). For all the skepticism, though, the D20 index of autonomous vehicle stocks has performed almost in lockstep with the Dow Jones Industrial Average. With the presence of autonomous vehicles in the next lane still years away, only time will tell when Wall Street will climb...

CHP Officer accused of stealing nude photos during suspect’s booking

By  Laura Anthony Thursday, October 23, 2014 08:24PM MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) — Bay Area CHP Officer Sean Harrington is accused of stealing nude cell phone pictures from a DUI suspect’s phone while she was being booked into the County Jail in Martinez. There is now evidence that other officers may also have been involved, and that possible criminal charges may be filed. “She’s tremendously distraught,” said Rick Madsen, the attorney for the young woman pulled over by Officer Harrington. He claims his client has been traumatized by this invasion of her privacy. “We don’t know at this point, although we’re gratified by the extent of the investigation by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office, the extent to which they’ve been transmitted, either to other individuals perhaps other law enforcement officers” said Madsen. Madsen says the incident happened in August. The 23-year-old woman was pulled over by the Dublin-based Harrington on Interstate 680, near the Crow Canyon Road exit. She was taken into custody for a suspected DUI and then transported to the main jail in Martinez. It’s there that Madsen alleges Officer Harrington transmitted nude photos of the woman from her phone to his. “He asked for her password in order for her to get a phone number for her to call somebody. During that time he went through her private photos and transmitted as many as six to his own private cell phone,” claims Madsen. The Contra Costa District Attorney’s office is deciding whether to press criminal charges against Harrington. In the meantime, the 35-year-old Harrington has reportedly been taken off the street and put on desk duty...

Forced catheterization alleged; suit says cops wanted quicker urine sample after traffic stop

Posted May 13, 2014 6:56 AM CDT By Debra Cassens Weiss An Indiana man has filed a federal lawsuit alleging police and hospital officials subjected him to a forced catheterization because he didn’t provide a urine sample quickly enough after a traffic stop. William Clark of Crown Point says in the suit that a Schererville police officer held him down while hospital personnel at Franciscan St. Margaret Mercy Health inserted a catheter, NWI.com reports. Clark says the officer pulled over his car last May on the belief that Clark was driving erratically. The officer falsely claimed that Clark’s breath test result was .11, and the town never provided proof of the test result during discovery, the suit alleges. When Clark submitted to a blood test at the hospital, the blood alcohol was within the legal limit, according to the suit. The suit seeks $11 million plus punitive...