Written by attorney Bill Powers

DWI Checkpoint - Turning Away - Caselaw QuickTip / State v. Foreman

"[T"]he key in the Court of Appeals' language is the phrase "without more." Here, as the Court of Appeals indicated, there was more than the left turn which justified the seizure. When Officer Ipock located the vehicle within seconds after it turned onto Taylor Street, the vehicle's engine was not running, the lights were off, and the occupants were crouched down in the dark. These additional factors were sufficient to raise a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity before defendant was seized by Officer Ipock.

The Court of Appeals emphasized that it was not only constitutionally permissible, but prudent, for officers to follow vehicles that avoided the DWI checkpoint in order to ascertain whether other factors raised a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity. However, there is a difference between stopping a vehicle and simply following it. Reasonable and articulable suspicion is necessary for an investigatory stop, but unnecessary to justify following a vehicle. While mere avoidance of a DWI checkpoint may prompt law enforcement officers to follow a vehicle, it does not, alone, give rise to a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity. (EMPHASIS ADDED)

". . .[H]owever, as the Court of Appeals stated, avoidance of a posted DWI checkpoint, "without more, does not justify an investigatory stop." North Carolina v. Foreman, 527 S.E. 2d 921 (2000).

Although a legal turn, by itself, is not sufficient to establish a reasonable, articulable suspicion, a legal turn in conjunction with other circumstances, such as the time, place and manner in which it is made, may constitute a reasonable, articulable suspicion which could justify an investigatory stop. As the United States Supreme Court recently stated in Illinois v. Wardlow, ___ U.S.___, [527 S.E.2d 924] 120 S.Ct. 673, 145 L.Ed.2d 570 (2000), "flight—wherever it occurs—is the consummate act of evasion: it is not necessarily indicative of wrongdoing, but it is certainly suggestive of such." Id. at ___, 120 S.Ct. at 676, 145 L.Ed.2d at 576.

NOTE: There may be other facts and law relevant to the issue. Readers should not base any decision on the information provided herein and are specifically advised no client-lawyer relationship has been established. Put simply, seek the advice of competent counsel without delay to discuss the particular aspects of the case, factual scenario and historical background WHY: The content herein is provided for educational purposes and should not be inferred as applying only to DWI / DUI criminal defense. In fact, it may be equally relevant to claims of personal injury involving accidents and the consumption of alcohol or more simply, to the daily practice of law. Bill Powers lectures on such issues on a regular basis with the intent to educate, to be fair, to be accurate and to encourage, open, honest and scientific discussion on the subject. Bill Powers is managing partner of Powers Landreth, pllc.

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