When a defendant is charged with a crime (such as Driving While Intoxicated or a Controlled Substances offense) based upon evidence found during a car stop, the first question an experienced defense attorney should ask is: “why was the car stopped?” If the stop was unconstitutional, any evidence found as a result of the stop should be suppressed.
While the police may conduct non-arbitrary, nondiscriminatory traffic checks at roadblocks, checkpoints and weigh stations pursuant to uniform procedures, an officer may not single out one particular vehicle and stop it for a routine traffic check to check the driver’s license and look for possible equipment violations. A single vehicle may only stopped where the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a violation of the Vehicle and Traffic Law has been committed. People v. Ingle, 36 N.Y.2d 413, 369 N.Y.S.2d 67 (1975).
In Ingle, the officer singled out the defendant’s vehicle from the stream of traffic solely because of its unusual appearance. The vehicle was an old vintage 1949 Ford. The Trooper decided to conduct a routine traffic stop. The Court held the stop illegal and suppressed drugs that were subsequently found in the car.