Well, it’s quite a picture indeed, and evidence that any police department would submit in a hurry to contest a probable cause challenge questioning why a motorist was stopped on a roadway.
There it is: As described in a news account of a stop that eventually resulted in a motorist being criminally charged for driving under the influence of alcohol, what led a police officer in one state to pop the red lights and pull over that driver was “a 15-foot tree wedged into the grille of her car.”
Yes, that’s large. Unless you’ve got a home with a truly vaulted ceiling, something like that wouldn’t come close to working as a Christmas tree.
It was certainly sufficient to effect a police stop, though, with the result being a subsequent close-hand inspection of the driver by the cop who pulled her over.
The arresting officer stated that the vehicle’s air bags had been deployed. Reportedly, the driver told the officer that she “didn’t remember where” her bizarre interaction with the tree occurred.
The tale might on the surface seem like nothing more than an outlier instance of someone clearly drunk who was taken off the road. Indeed, it was certainly that, but we submit that the story is also instructive for a quick primer on the aforementioned probable cause.
Motorists are well served to remember that cops can’t simply pull them over on a hunch or unbacked suspicion as a pretext to nose around and, hopefully, find incriminating evidence that a law was broken. Rather, a police officer must have an articulable and reasonable suspicion of ongoing criminal activity — that is, probable cause — before he or she seeks to take a closer look.
Arguably, a large tree wedged in the grille of a moving vehicle suffices for that purpose.
In high numbers of other instances that occur daily in Colorado and elsewhere across the country, though, things are far less clear. When such is the case, a motorist with questions or concerns might reasonably want to consult with a proven criminal defense attorney who deals regularly with DUI matters for guidance and, when necessary, diligent legal representation.