One of the best ways to beat a DUI in Pennsylvania (PA) is to suppress the stop. But what does that mean?
When can the police pull you over?
In Pennsylvania the police have to have a reason to pull you over. And the reason has to be legitimate. There are two main reasons a cop can pull you over:
- The officer observes a motor vehicle code violation; or
- The officer has reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed.
Whether there was really a motor vehicle code violation or sufficient reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop can make or break a DUI defense. That’s because if the stop is illegal, any evidence the police gather from that stop is inadmissible. In other words: if you can get the stop thrown out the DA will have a pretty hard time proving a DUI occurred.
What is a suppression?
Suppression is a very technical legal issue in Pennsylvania. An attorney needs to review the officer’s affidavit of probable cause, any incident reports, the police officer or state trooper’s dash camera, and the preliminary hearing testimony to weigh the possibility of filing a suppression motion. Those motions, like other pretrial motions, must be filed within thirty days of the formal arraignment, so it’s very important to get an attorney to look at the case ASAP.
When can a judge throw out my case?
A Magisterial District Judge cannot suppress a stop. That means the suppression won’t happen at the preliminary hearing. Even if the stop is blatantly illegal, the MDJ can still hear the evidence.
Only a judge at the Court of Common Pleas can entertain a suppression motion. If the judge denies the suppression it could be a good issue on appeal as well, since the pretrial motion will preserve the issue moving forward.