Arizona Court Denies Defendant’s Motion to Suppress in DUI Case Despite Arresting Officer Being Under Investigation for Providing Misleading Information

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona DUI case involving a defendant’s claim that the trooper who pulled him over lacked reasonable suspicion to do so. The defendant’s argument was based on the fact that, at the time of his arrest, the trooper was under investigation for providing false and misleading information on official paperwork. Ultimately, however, the appellate court concluded that the lower court’s decision to deny the motion should be upheld.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a trooper pulled over the defendant for following another vehicle too closely. Upon observing the defendant, the trooper believed the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and requested he consent to a blood draw. The defendant denied the request, and the trooper then obtained a warrant to draw the defendant’s blood. Ultimately, the defendant was arrested for DUI.

In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant presented evidence showing that the trooper who arrested him resigned during an investigation into alleged misconduct during the trooper’s DUI arrests. Evidently, the trooper faced allegations that he “arrested suspects without probable cause and filed reports containing false information.” The defendant also presented evidence that the trooper included the wrong date and time on the paperwork he generated related to the defendant’s arrest. The defendant argued that these facts, viewed together, cast doubt on the reliability of what the trooper claimed he observed.

The trial court rejected the defendant’s motion, and the defendant was ultimately convicted of DUI. The defendant then appealed the denial of his motion to suppress.

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion. The court explained that, while the state carries the ultimate burden to show that a traffic stop was legal, the defendant must first establish a prima facie case supporting the suppression of the evidence. Here, however, the court concluded that the defendant failed to present a prima facie case of suppression.

The court held that, while the investigation into the trooper’s conduct may have cast some doubt over the reliability of his observations, the defendant did not “establish irrebuttable evidence the trooper’s stated basis for arresting him lacked credibility.” The court explained that it was up to the trial judge to weigh the credibility of the trooper, and it was not up to the appellate court to review that credibility decision. The court was also unconcerned about the trooper including the wrong date and time, explaining that it was akin to a typographical error.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with an Arizona drunk driving offense, contact Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a veteran Tempe criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of Arizona DUI offenses, including those challenging the legality of an Arizona traffic stop. To learn more about how Attorney Novak can help you defend against the charges you are facing, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

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