Sec. 547.353 of the Transportation Code states that forward facing clearance lights must be amber in color. Trooper initiated a stop based upon white clearance light facing forward. However, Sec. 547.351 state that the requirements for that subchapter apply only to vehicles in Sec. 547.352 with the issue in our case being the vehicle width. Defendant vehicle is 79.4 inches. Statute says requirement is for 80 inches and wider.
The trooper complied exactly with his training. I even watched the training segment upon which they are tested. It trains them that clearance lights, if installed, must be amber. It seems that the statute and the training are in conflict.
Any thoughts? I have a suppression issue hinging upon this. Thanks in advance for your help.
It sounds like you might have a good case of reasonable mistake of fact. I'll send you some case briefs I made a while back when I encountered a mistake of fact issue myself.
Assistant Criminal District Attorney
I don't necessarily think that this is a reasonable mistake of fact issue. The issue is really whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to believe that a traffic offense had been committed. Based on his observations did he have reason to believe that the vehicle was over 80 inches wide. The fact that an offense was not actually committed is really irrelevant to the determination of probable cause.
See Jaganathan v. State, 479 S.W.3d 244, 247 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015)(The question in this case is not whether appellant was guilty of the traffic offense but whether the trooper had a reasonable suspicion that she was).
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