Court OKs Traffic Stop for Loud Exhaust


car

Case: People v. Nadeau (Unpublished Opinion)

Issues:

Search & seizure; Motion to suppress evidence from a traffic stop; U.S. Const. amend. IV; Const. 1963, art. 1, § 11; The exclusionary rule; People v. Hawkins; People v. Hyde; When a person is seized; People v. Lewis; Investigatory stop; People v. Oliver; Terry v. Ohio; People v. Shankle; Reasonable suspicion; People v. Rizzo; People v. Horton; People v. Fisher; Prosecution’s failure to produce traffic stop video; People v. Daniel; Brady v. Maryland;People v. Tracey; MCR 6.201(B)(1); People v. Davis; People v. Johnson

Summary:

The trial court did not err by denying defendant’s motion to suppress evidence from his traffic stop. Also, nothing in the record supported the inference that the loss of the video recording of the stop was anything other than an inadvertent technological failure thus, it did not require reversal. He was convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, third offense, driving with a suspended license, second offense, and possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. He argued that because there was evidence that the exhaust system was new and that the front windows were not tinted, Officer T “could not have had a reasonable suspicion that defendant was violating traffic laws.” However, because T observed that the volume of the exhaust system was noticeably loud, it was reasonable for T “to believe that defendant could have been violating traffic laws prohibiting operating a vehicle with a defective or excessively loud exhaust system.” T’s testimony showed “his reasonable and particularized suspicion that defendant was violating traffic laws, thus justifying the traffic stop to investigate the possible violations.” Defendant correctly asserted that “there was evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing that he did not have tinted front windows, and that his exhaust system had been recently installed. Because there was evidence that the exhaust system was at most 10 months old and that the front windows may not have been tinted, it was possible at that time that defendant might not be convicted of these infractions.” But T “was not required to show that defendant was guilty of a traffic violation or even that there was probable cause” a crime was committed. “Rather, ‘[t]he dispositive question . . . is not whether an actual violation occurred, but whether the officer had a reasonable suspicion that a violation may have occurred.’” Whether or not the front windows were actually tinted or the “exhaust system was impermissibly loud, defendant testified that the rear windows of the vehicle were tinted, and another defense witness described the new exhaust system as louder because of its particular design.” This testimony supported the reasonableness of T’s suspicion. Affirmed.

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