I was recently retained by a young lady who was pulled over on Democracy Boulevard heading west after exiting from I-270 North. The Police officer said that she had cut him off and “almost” struck his vehicle when she tried to merge left from the ramp lane. After smelling a “strong odor” of alcohol and noticing bloodshot watery eyes she was asked to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. She did not perform the tests to the officer’s satisfaction and was arrested. She was charged with Maryland DWI and Maryland DUI. She was facing up to a year in jail and needed a Maryland DUI Lawyer.
My initial thought based on her version of events and the officer’s notes was that it was an illegal stop since she had not committed a traffic violation. The court in Lewis v. State, 398 Md. 349 (Md. 2007) found that a police officer did not have justification to conduct an investigatory traffic stop based upon the fact that defendant "almost" hit the police car. The court in Lewis went on to say that the State’s attempt to permit investigatory traffic stops in situations in which a driver of a car is "almost" involved in a traffic accident runs afoul of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence because there is no basis for conducting an investigatory traffic stop when it is evident that the driver is lawfully operating his vehicle without any accompanying illegal activity.
I investigated the charges by requesting the police report from the State and sought other evidence that the State intended to use in the prosecution. I also planned a visit to the location of the traffic stop with my client so I could get a visual picture of the location of the traffic stop. The officer that initiated the traffic stop of my client, in this case, was a Rockville City Police officer and when I input the location of the stop into Google Maps the address came up as Bethesda, Maryland. I thought that I might have a case where the Officer performed a traffic stop outside of his jurisdictional authority but I had to me absolutely positive if I was going to pursue that defense.
As a Maryland DUI Attorney, I met my client at the site of the stop and brought a map of area. I had already reviewed a Rockville City map that showed the city boundaries. I asked her to describe the events of the night of the stop and show me exactly where she was when the officer activated his lights, and the exact location of where she pulled over. I also had her walk me through the field sobriety tests she performed and the exact location she performed them. After taking photographs of the area I went back to my office confident that the Officer in this case was outside of his jurisdiction when he pulled over my client for an alleged traffic violation.
Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Procedure Article (“CP”), §2-102 allowed police to exercise extra-jurisdictional powers under certain circumstances:
(2)(i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph and subject to the limitations provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, and in addition to the powers granted in § 298 of this article [the authority to enforce the drug laws], a police officer of this State may make arrests, conduct investigations and otherwise enforce the laws of this State throughout the State without limitations as to jurisdiction.
However, Subsection (2)(ii) states that “Under this subsection a police officer may not enforce the provisions of the Maryland Vehicle Law beyond the officer's sworn jurisdiction.”
That is exactly what happened in this case. I immediately prepared a motion to suppress the evidence based on lack of jurisdiction and the fact that the officer had no reasonable articulable suspicion that my client had committed a traffic violation and therefore had no basis to pull her over. I also went to Rockville City Hall and obtained a certified map of the city showing the jurisdictional boundaries.
On the day of the trial I informed the State’s Attorney that the Rockville City Police officer had no authority to enforce the traffic laws of the State of Maryland in Bethesda and that I intended to ask the Court to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop. I showed the State the certified map and the exact location of the alleged traffic offense and the traffic stop based on the police report.
The State’s attorney had us wait for over two and a half hours as she called back to the office to try and determine if there was a mutual aid agreement between the Rockville City Police and Montgomery County Police. There was none. The State ended up dismissing the Maryland DWI and Maryland DUI charges.
Please note these cases may be different than yours and these results do not guarantee that your case will result in the same outcome. No DUI or criminal attorney can guarantee results.