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  • David A. Cmelik Law PLC

Cedar Rapids Criminal Lawyer: top reasons police use to justify OWI traffic stop


Officers are on the constant lookout for potentially impaired drivers in a Cedar Rapids or Iowa City OWI (DUI) investigation and traffics top. They're trained to spot purported signs of impairment during the "vehicle in motion" phase of DUI investigation.

The most common reasons for their opening move in an OWI stop include, but are not limited to, the following simple misdemeanor traffic violations:

1. Speeding

2. Improper use of lanes

3. Improper right hand turn

4. Failure to obey a traffic control device (red light run)

5. No headlights on after dusk

6. Equipment violations-- headlights, turn signals burned out

7. No front or rear license plate

As you can see from the list, all of these should result in scheduled fines or a "fix it" ticket. But officers cleverly use their authority to stop cars with emergency top lights and siren. Once in personal contact, they engage in a pretest interview and look carefully for signs of purportedly impairment, including but not limited to bloodshot eyes, slurred or thick tongued speech, and the odor of alcohol emanating from the driver's breath or person. They intentionally ask for multiple items: registration, proof of insurance, and driver's license-- to see if the driver is "all thumbs" or fumbles with these items.

What can the OWI suspect and defendant in a Cedar Rapids criminal prosecution from drunk driving do to challenge the evidence that comes after a purportedly legitimate stop for a traffic violation? An attorney licensed in Iowa and practicing exclusively in the area of criminal law can assist a client in determining the propriety of a traffic stop.

An officer requires probable cause to believe a traffic violation has occurred but often attempts to blend this analysis with a lower "reasonable suspicion standard." In other words, if the police officer believes their "probable cause" argument is weak, they and the prosecutor will fall back on the lower standard of "reasonable suspicion," which is defined as "more than a scintilla but less than probable cause." A criminal lawyer assisting a defendant will know what to look for in determining whether the justification for the stop was legitimate or exaggerated.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for OWI (DUI) or other Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or other Iowa community or county offense, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at 319-389-1889 for a free initial consultation. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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