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Tail light stop turns in to DUI arrest

Often, police officers pull drivers over violations like expired license tabs or speeding, and then proceed to investigate the driver for other crimes. Drivers have constitutional rights to proper procedure when they're stopped by the police, and it's important to know those rights if you have been stopped. Police may not always follow the proper procedure before they start a DUI investigation and may not gather reliable evidence in the process.

These types of stop happen all the time. A recent case involving an Orangeburg man started with a broken tail light and ended with the man being placed under arrest for a DUI, expired tags, defective equipment, possession of marijuana, speeding, and being uninsured.

The police officer pulled the man over at just after midnight when they saw a broken tail light on his car. According to authorities, the man told police that he had been at a local bar. Next, the officer conducted a field sobriety test and searched the vehicle, allegedly discovering a marijuana cigarette in the ashtray. There is no available information as to what caused the officers to search the car, although car searches are generally permitted in a wide range of circumstances.

There was also a passenger in the car, a 17-year-old woman, who was charged with possession of marijuana and minor possession of alcohol.

A DUI conviction can have a big impact on individuals, especially when combined with other violations or a prior DUI conviction. It's difficult to prevent conviction without a detailed knowledge of proper police procedure and evidence rules, so having an experienced attorney to take control of the situation can make a difference.

Source: Times and Democrat, "Traffic stop for broken taillight, speeding also leads to DUI, simple possession charges," Feb. 12, 2012.

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