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Criminal Defense: Temporary inspection sticker on car - insufficient for search


The New York Law Journal reported that “A temporary inspection sticker on a motor vehicle is insufficient justification for a police search, without any other indication of illegal activity, a state appeals court has ruled.”

This case starts out, as one can imagine, when “a sheriff’s deputy stopped a vehicle in the Town of Southport, Chemung County after observing that it had a temporary inspection sticker.” The occupant, the defendant, flees and is later apprehended. Crack is recovered from the vehicle. The Defendant was charged with two drug offenses. A suppression hearing was held where the deputy discussed his practice of stopping cars with a temporary inspection sticker. The Third Department has little problem suppressing the evidence obtained as a result of the illegal stop. The Court stated that

It is entirely proper to operate a motor vehicle with a temporary inspection sticker under certain circumstances and, as a result, the display of one does not constitute grounds for a traffic stop absent a “specific articulable basis” to believe that illegality is afoot (People v. Bowdoin, 89 AD2d 986, 987 [1982]; see Vehicle and Traffic Law §306 [b]; People v. Perez, 149 AD2d 344, 345 [1989]). The practice of stopping any vehicle with a temporary inspection sticker, without more, represents impermissible “idle curiosity” as to the sticker’s validity rather than the “reasonable suspicion” of illegality needed to effect a traffic stop (People v. Ingle, 36 NY2d 413, 420 [1975]; see People v. Sobotker, 43 NY2d 559, 563-564 [1978]; People v. Simone, 39 NY2d 818, 819 [1976]). Thus, we reverse “County Court’s order [denying] defendant’s motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of [the illegal traffic stop] and, pursuant to CPL 470.55 (2), vacate defendant’s guilty plea and restore the action to its prepleading status” (People v. Samuels, 270 AD2d 779, 781 [2000]).

The Court noted that “The deputy candidly admitted that he had no idea whether the sticker was valid when he made the stop, nor did he indicate that the temporary sticker gave him any other reason for suspicion…He instead stated that his ‘general practice’ was to stop any vehicle he encountered with a temporary inspection sticker in order to ‘ensure [that the sticker had] not expired. ”

Traffic Stop Evidence Suppressed – Officer did not have the specific articulable basis to believe that illegality is afoot. The Case is People v. Driscoll, 107588, NYLJ 1202776119375, at *1 (App. Div., 3rd, Decided December 29, 2016).

Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) | (954) 998-2918 (FLA) - representing people facing accident, accountability and addiction matters - because the problems surrounding a criminal charge do not necessarily end in a criminal court anymore...


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