Tag: traffic stop

DUI & Drug Trafficking Cases In Ohio

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drug traffickingMore and more, we are seeing an increase in drug trafficking cases.  The Ohio State Highway Patrol has become much more aggressive in using a traffic stop as a pretense to do an extensive search for illegal drugs.  These stops frequently turn a minor traffic violation case into a trafficking, distribution or possession of drugs case.  We expect more of these cases as the Ohio State Highway Patrol begins implementation of the Drug Recognition Expert protocol.

The analysis of a drug trafficking case is very similar to the approach we take to an impaired driving case.  What that means is that we deconstruct each and every decision that the officer makes.  Was there proper justification for the traffic stop? Did the officer have reasonable and articulable suspicion to continue the detention to conduct a drug trafficking or possession investigation?  Did the officer conduct an illegal search of your person and/or vehicle? Did the officer’s actions, based on a totality of the circumstances, establish probable cause for a drug trafficking arrest?  Was the evidence handled or tested properly?  Can the government establish a proper chain of custody for the evidence?  Our mission is to get your case thrown out! We act aggressively to keep you out of jail, keep your fines low and protect your freedom.

We have a great track record of defending drug trafficking, distribution, possession and other drug charges.  We know how to seek treatment in lieu of conviction and how to minimize penalties. We also have a track record consistent with fighting these charges.  For the past five years we have been the chosen team to represent Miami Valley N.O.R.M.L.  We speak, we advocate and we defend.

If you are facing a drug trafficking charge in the Miami Valley, call Charles M. Rowland II for a free consultation at (937) 318-1384.  If you need assistance after hours, please call the 24-7 Hotline at (937) 776-2671.

Kettering DUI; Probable Cause vs. Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

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I recently encountered a factual question in a case in the Kettering Municipal Court involving the reason that the officer stopped my client.  Below is the case law which sets forth the two standards used to justify a traffic stop in Ohio. Visit www.KetteringDUI.com for information about the Kettering Municipal Court.

In State v. Moore, 2008-Ohio-2407, the 3rd District Court of Appeals reversed course on its prior decision in State v. Phillips, 2006-Ohio-6338and held that an officer had reasonable articulable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop when the Defendant’s vehicle drifted approximately 1/2 a car width over the fog line and off the road and then came back into his lane of travel.  There are two different types of traffic stops, each requiring a different constitutional standard to be lawful. State v. Moeller (Oct. 23, 2000), 12th Dist. No. CA99-07-128.

A. Stops Based On Probable Cause

The first kind of constitutional traffic stop occurs when a police officer witnesses a violation of the traffic code and stops the motorist to issue a citation, a warning, or to effect an arrest. For this type of traffic stop to occur, the heightened standard of probable cause must underlie the stop. Bowling Green v. Godwin, 110 Ohio St.3d 58, 2006-Ohio-3563, at ¶ 13, quoting Gaddis ex rel. Gaddis v. Redford Twp. (E.D.Mich. 2002), 188 F.Supp.2d 762, 767. “Probable cause is determined by examining historical facts, i.e., the events leading up to a stop or search, `viewed from the standpoint of an objectively reasonable police officer.'” Godwin, 2006-Ohio-3563, at ¶ 14, quoting Ornelas v. United States (1996), 517 U.S. 690, 696. “Probable cause” is “a reasonable ground for belief of guilt.” State v. Moore, 90 Ohio St.3d 47, 49, 2002-Ohio-10. In this type of stop, the determination of probable cause “like all probable cause determinations, is fact-dependent and will turn on what the officer knew at the time he made the stop.” Godwin, 2006-Ohio-3563 at ¶ 14, quoting Dayton v. Erickson, 76 Ohio St.3d 3, 10, 1996-Ohio-431, quoting United States v. Ferguson (C.A.6, 1993), 8 F.3d 385, 391, (emphasis in original). Additionally, probable cause is provided when an officer had probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred or was occurring. Moeller, supra; see Erickson, 76 Ohio St.3d at 3, syllabus (“Where a police officer stops a vehicle based on probable cause that a traffic violation has occurred or was occurring, the stop is not unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution even if the officer had some ulterior motive for making the stop, such as a suspicion that the violator was engaging in more nefarious criminal activity. (United States v. Ferguson [C.A.6, 1993], 8 F.3d 385, applied and followed.)”); see, also, Whren v. United States (1996), 517 U.S. 806, 819 (“Here the District Court found that the officers had probable cause to believe that petitioners had violated the traffic code. That rendered the stop reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, the evidence thereby discovered is admissible * * *.”).

B. Stops Based On a Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

The second kind of constitutional traffic stop is an investigatory stop. The Ohio Supreme Court has held that the question of whether an investigatory traffic stop is reasonable requires an “objective assessment of a police officer’s actions in light of the facts and circumstances then known to the officer.” Erickson, 76 Ohio St.3d at 6 (citation omitted). An investigatory stop is the motorized equivalent of a “Terry” stop, id.; see Terry v. Ohio(1968), 392 U.S. 1, and requires satisfaction of the “Terry” standard to be constitutionally acceptable: “articulable and reasonable suspicion” that an offense has been or is being committed. Prouse, 440 U.S. at 673. The lesser standard of reasonable articulable suspicion is defined as the ability of the officer “to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.” Terry, 392 U.S. at 20-21.