Police officers cannot pull over drivers whenever they feel like it. Instead, they must have a reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop, which can be things like speeding or weaving in and out of traffic. That apparently did not stop one officer from pulling over and arresting a man without any justifiable reason to do so, although this case recently worked its way through the state’s appellate courts.
The North Carolina Supreme Court recently weighed in on a case involving a 2017 traffic stop. Prior to pulling over the driver in question, the officer had pulled over to help someone who had run out of gas. That is when the officer noticed the driver passing by, allegedly holding up his middle finger. The officer left the stranded motorist and pulled over the driver.
At first the driver declined to identify himself, and was arrested for delaying, obstructing or resisting an officer. The driver argued that the officer’s testimony should be excluded from the case because there was no reason to pull him over, but the lower court judge did not agree. The man ultimately pleaded guilty to the charge but indicated that he would file an appeal. The Court of Appeals later upheld the lower court judge’s decision.
The case then went on to the North Carolina Supreme Court, where it was decided that the officer did not have any reasonable suspicion for pulling over the driver. While this likely came as a relief to the man, defending one’s self against such charges can be overwhelming. This is why some defendants choose to seek guidance regarding their criminal defense plan or appeals process.