Q: Must police ask reasonably related questions related to the purpose of the traffic stop for an equipment violation?

Illega I was pulled over by the state police and got in trouble. I turned the corner with him coming towards me and he immediately turned around and pulled me over. All that was asked was for my papers, and 'how much have you had to drink today cause I can smell it.' End of story. Not a clue why I was stopped. When I asked on the way to jail, he stated cracked windshield and windshield wiper obstructing my view. The crack was 4' in length above my line of sight from the pillar, the wiper was in it's downright, factory position. I had the convertable top down wondering how he could smell anything. At drivers license hearing, he testified the crack went 'directly across my line of sight' and the windshield wiper was 'stuck in a 45 degree position passenger side obstructing my view' I had a lawyer, no supression hearing for fear of more jail time. Is this a valid terry stop? Shouldn't questioning be reasonably related in scope to its purpose? I was given a pbt within 4 minutes of the stop

1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Interesting question, and I can tell you did some research. The limits expressed in Terry v. Ohio don't apply when driving a car. Police can pull over a car for any number of reasons, and once stopped, can inquire as they did in your case. I would note that you didn't have to answer the question about drinking, but if the officer had probable cause to suspect a crime (DUI), he or she could have you step out, request that you take a PBT (which you can refuse), or take field sobriety tests. If you had refused to do any of that, the officer could have still arrested you, but would have needed to really have said some things about probable cause to substantiate the arrest. But assuming he or she could, then the question would turn on what your BAC level actually was. By you stating you had a driver license hearing, I suspect that they gave you an implied consent violation? If so, that's for the usually second chemical test administered; if you refuse that, and without good reason, you will have an implied consent violation and subject to a one-year suspension of your license REGARDLESS of whether you are guilty of DUI.

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