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Director Must Show Reason for Arrest, Not Reason for Stop

June 9, 2017

On June 6, 2017, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, in R. R. Williams v. Director of Revenue, et al, No. ED104052, ruled that in a civil driver license suspension case where the driver is over the age of twenty-one, "Section 302.505 does not require an officer to have reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop." It only requires proof that there was probable cause for the arrest for an alcohol-related offense.

"In a criminal trial for driving while arresting officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle prior to conducting the traffic stop, otherwise the evidence collected as a result of the stop will be inadmissible under the exclusionary rule of the Fourth Amendment." State v. Beck. In the present case, the traffic stop was conducted pursuant to the officer's observations of both passenger side tires on the driver's vehicle crossing over the fogline. In State v. Abeln, the court held that this action was found not to be supportive of reasonable suspicion to justify the traffic stop, thereby triggering the exclusionary rule and suppressing the evidence obtained by the police subsequent to the stop.

"[T]he exclusionary rule does not apply in administrative proceedings to suspend or revoke a driver's license; [therefore,] an administrative suspension hearing where the driver is over the age of twenty-one...there must only be probable cause to arrest the driver, and the sufficiency of the legal basis to justify the initial traffic stop is immaterial." State v. Riche.

In the present case, the Director was only required to prove that the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest the driver for Driving While Intoxicated. The reason for the stop was immaterial. "The Director was only required to prove there was probable cause to arrest Williams for driving in violation of an alcohol related offense."

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