For link to that opinion, click here.
The case is also distinguishable because the defendant tried to evade the officer by driving away. That criminal act would have attenuated any stop issue should the court not have found the officer had a reasonable basis for a temporary detention.
The use of the database is really no different than running someone's criminal history and looking for open warrants. In this case, the database was quite accurate. I suspect, as times goes on and more information gets into the database, it will be more and more useful.
Lesson: the absence of information is not a basis for a stop, at least not yet.
[This message was edited by JB on 04-07-11 at .]
The First Court of Appeals just issued an opinion in which the court held that the officer had reasonable suspicion that the appellant lacked the required financial responsibility based on infornmation provided by the state's insurance database. The case is Crawford v. State
Anyone have any new information on this topic?
For years DPS's legal advisers have taken an hyper-cautious stance when it comes to advising troopers where the legal line is drawn. This is yet another example of that timidity playing out.
For at least 4 years, DPS handcuffed itself by it's own legal opinion, and refused to allow troopers to stop vehicles that did not show up as insured in the state's motor vehicle insurance database, even tho the vast majority of the vehicles that would have been stopped would in fact be without insurance. A certain percentage of these stops would have resulted in arrests for other offenses, including DWI and serious drug and money smuggling operations.
Finally, a court has ruled on the question, and as anyone who has read Terry v. Ohio would have predicted, the holding was obvious: yes, you may stop a vehicle if it is not found in the insurance database.
As a previous poster pointed out: reasonable suspicion is just a reasonable suspicion--it is even less than probable cause, and far less than beyond a reasonable doubt. The database does not have to be 100% accurate before it can be used to make a stop.
DPS's hyper-cautiousness in interpreting the law prevents troopers from stopping law breakers, and it provides fodder for defense attorneys to use as arguments in suppressing legally seized evidence in non-DPS cases. The people of Texas pay the cost of these policies as more crime is allowed to pass by unrestrained by law enforcement.
Maybe it's time for DPS to re-think it's ACLU-like mind-set when interpreting the law, and take a more balanced approach.
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