Tuesday, November 6, 2007

License plate must entirely unobstructed

Important California DUI criminal defense lawyer case

People v. White (2001) 93 CA4th 1022; 113 CR2d 584:

The defendant was pulled over because the trailer hitch ball on his vehicle was blocking the license plate.

After stopping the defendant's truck for the license plate violation, the officer cited him for a California Drunk Driving - DUI and driving on a suspended license.

The California DUI trial court granted the defendant's motion to suppress the evidence relating to the other charges as it interpreted VC §5201 to be limited to dirt and grime obscuring a license plate. Thus, the stop was not lawful.

The appellate court determined that the "clearly visible" requirement of §5201 meant that the view of the license plate be entirely unobstructed.

As the defendant's license plate was partially obstructed from view by a trailer hitch ball violated §5201, the police officer had lawful means to detain the vehicle and the defendant.

The trial court's grant of the motion to suppress was reversed.