Tag

Traffic Offenses Archives | Page 2 of 2 | Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorneys and Personal Injury Lawyers

Texas front license plate law

License Plate Law in Texas | Front License Plate | Two Plate Rule

By | Traffic Offenses

One License Plate or Two: Does Your Car Need a Front License Plate In Texas?

Texas front license plate lawHow many license plates does your vehicle need in order to comply with Texas law? Do you need one or is there a two plate rule? Should you drill holes into the front bumper of your car to install a front license plate, or will you be alright with a rear plate only? If you are reading this article, perhaps you have exhaustively Google-searched license plate laws out of frustration. Find out what the Texas Transportation code says about license plates and what the implications are for you, the Texas motorist.

Do I need a Front License Plate in Texas? Yes. Texas law requires that every vehicle maintain a license plate in the front and rear of the vehicle.  The current fine for failing to display a front license plate in Texas is $200.00.

Do I need a Front License Plate in Texas? | An Error In the Texas Transportation Code Created a License Plate Loophole

Since 1934, Texas law has required that Texas motorists display a front and a rear license plate. In 2011, House Bill 2357 modified the statutory language making driving a vehicle without displaying a front and a rear license place both illegal and punishable by a fine. In January of 2012, Texas lawmakers revised the transportation code, once again, to include several new provisions. However, in the process of making revisions, the provision mandating a penalty for vehicles not in compliance with the “two plate rule” was accidentally stricken from the Texas Transportation Code. From January 2012 to September of 2013, law enforcement could not lawfully issue citations for failure to display a front license plate. Unfortunately, this brief period of time also created a lot of confusion around the “two plate rule” that reverberates to the present day.

Texas Lawmakers Amend the Code to Close the Loophole | Front License Plate Now Required in Texas

The two plate rule was originally created for the purpose of making identification of vehicles and their owners more efficient for automatic plate readers and law enforcement agencies. In 2012, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (“TTI”) issued a report, citing overall effectiveness of the two plate rule, unlike states that only required one rear license plate on a vehicle. TTI found that front license plates were (1) easier to read in the daylight; (2) helpful in toll billing; (3) aided law enforcement in tracking down violators of the transportation code by way of automatic plate readers; and (4) allowed Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to process and screen vehicles more effectively and quickly. Thus, the front license plate requirement in Texas.

Aware of the inadvertent loophole created by omission of the penalty provision, lawmakers amended the transportation code in September of 2013 to mandate punishment for Texas motorists who do not display both the front and the rear license plates. Motorists who do not have a front license plate risk incurring a Class C misdemeanor charge, punishable by fine not to exceed $500.

Implications For the Texas Motorist | Texas Front License Plate Law | Penalty for Front License Plate Violation

Currently, the penalty for operating a vehicle without a front license plate is $200.00 – subject to change with subsequent legislation. However, there may be more to this than meets the eye. Generally speaking, when a vehicle is out of compliance with mandatory safety and administrative regulations (such as only having a rear license plate), by statute, Texas law enforcement has “probable cause” to conduct a traffic stop. At minimum, such a traffic stop could include pulling the vehicle over, running a check of the license plate, researching the driver’s license and registration of the motorist, and issuing a citation for violating the two plate rule.

In sum, a Texas motorist who drives without both plates risks being pulled over for a lawful traffic stop and fined at least $200.00 for a misdemeanor traffic offense.

References:

Passing in Left Lane in Texas

Warrantless Traffic Stop Upheld for Driving in “Passing Only” Lane

By | Drug Crimes, Reasonable Suspicion

Driving in the “Passing Only” Left Lane for Forty-Five Seconds Creates Reasonable Suspicion for Warrantless Traffic Stop in Texas

Passing in Left Lane in TexasJaganathan v. State: Francheska Jaganathan was driving in the left lane of a three-lane Texas highway, just ahead of a police cruiser. Mounted with a dashboard camera, the cruiser accelerated and changed lanes, but stayed behind Jaganathan’s car. A few seconds later, Jaganathan’s car passed a “Left Lane for Passing Only Sign,” yet her vehicle continued in the left lane despite the middle lane being clear of traffic. About forty-five seconds later, the trooper turned on his overhead lights, and conducted a traffic stop of Jaganathan’s car. During the traffic stop, the trooper smelled marijuana, prompting a search of the vehicle. The trooper found marijuana in the trunk, and as a result, Jaganathan was charged with possession of marijuana.

At trial, Jaganathan filed a motion to suppress the evidence, but the court denied the motion. Jaganathan chose a plea agreement where she pled guilty and was placed on deferred adjudication. On appeal, Jaganathan argued that the trooper lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop in the first place. The court of appeals agreed with her, stating that Jaganathan likely stayed in the left lane for safety reasons, that seeing the cruiser may have influenced her decision to stay out of the trooper’s way, and that a few seconds were an insufficient amount of time “to conclude that [Jaganathan] committed a [traffic] violation.”

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas disagrees with the court of appeals, citing the reasonable suspicion standard in Texas, and the Texas Transportation Code. The Court of Criminal Appeals also clarifies the issue at hand.

The issue is not whether Jaganathan committed a traffic offense, but whether the trooper had reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle.

First, “A trooper may make a warrantless traffic stop if the reasonable suspicion standard is satisfied.” Guerra v. State, 432 S.W.3d 905, 911 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). “Reasonable suspicion exists if the trooper has specific and articulable facts that, when combined with rational inferences from those facts, would lead him to reasonably suspect that a particular person has engaged …in criminal activity.” Abney v. State, 394 S.W.3d 542, 548 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013).

Second, “an operator of a motor vehicle [must] comply with an applicable official traffic-control device, including a sign.” TEX. TRANSP. CODE § 544.004(a); § 541.304(1). “Before a trooper can have reasonable suspicion to believe that a defendant committed the traffic offense of failing to obey a “Left Lane for Passing Only” sign, the trooper must be aware of facts that support a reasonable inference that the defendant drove past the sign before being pulled over.” Abney, 394 S.W.3d at 549.

Here, Jaganathan was driving in the left lane without passing other cars, after driving past a sign that prohibited that conduct. The dashboard camera captured the sign and all of the movements of the car. According to the Court of Criminal Appeals, even if Jaganathan had a defense of necessity—she HAD to be in the left lane for a medical or traffic emergency—the trooper still had reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop. The Court of Criminal Appeals states, “these were only possibilities, and so it was reasonable for [the trooper] to suspect the appellant had violated the law.” Further, the reasonable suspicion standard “accepts the risk that officers may stop innocent people.” Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 125 (2000). As a result of the forty-five second traffic violation, the trooper had reasonable suspicion to pull Jaganathan’s car over; and, as a result of smelling marijuana, the trooper was able to search the car without a warrant, resulting in charges against Jaganathan. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

It is important to note, however, that the ruling has a dissenting opinion. Justice Meyers is adamant that the sign and the Transportation Code supporting it are problematic for the following reasons:

• The Code is unclear on how to comply or not comply with the sign.
• The Code does not state a specific amount of time a driver has to pass and merge back into the non-passing lane.
• The Code does not address passing a string of cars, in the middle lane.
• The Code does not address the need to accelerate to be able to pass, whether intended or unintended (for example if the car being passed speeds up, making passing difficult).
• Proving a driver’s intent to pass another car is difficult.

If you or a loved one are facing traffic violations or drug charges, please contact our office for a free consultation at (817) 993-9249.

Fort Worth criminal attorneys in Texas

Who Has The Burden of Proof?

By | Traffic Offenses

Does the State or the Defense have the Burden of Proof?

Fort Worth criminal attorneys in TexasArias v. State – 14th Court of Appeals (Houston) 2011

Carlos Arias was observed speeding by a police officer and pulled over. Arias was unable to provide proof of financial responsibility (proof of insurance), when asked by the police officer. Arias went to trial in the municipal court of record and after the close of State’s case-in-chief, Arias claimed that there were statutory exceptions to the requirement to establish financial responsibility and that the State had not negated them.  He appealed his conviction to the County Criminal Court at Law.

Generally, when a penal statute includes an exception as part of the statute itself, the State must negate the existence of the exception in the indictment of the offense and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant or defendant’s conduct does not fall within the exception. Failing to negate an exception is the same as failing to allege an essential element of the offense and renders the indictment void. However, when an exception is in a separate section from the provision that states the offense, it is not essential for the State to negate the exception. This is different from an exception and called a defense, which must be raised by the defendant.

An “Exception” or a “Defense”

The key distinction is who has the burden of proof—an exception means the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt or the defendant should be acquitted; a defense means a defendant bears the initial burden to produce some evidence that supports the defensive theory. Once the defendant produces such evidence, the State then bears the ultimate burden of persuasion to disprove the defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  So, to be clear, the defense does not bear the “burden of proof,” but only a burden to produce some evidence of the defensive theory.  The burden then shifts to the state to disprove the defense.

The Court of Appeals found that no Texas court has determined whether the State must negate the exceptions to the financial responsibility requirement as an element of the offense or whether the exceptions are defenses that must be raised by the defendant. The Court of Appeals looked to the statute in the Transportation Code and decided if exceptions or defenses are listed. To do this they decided whether they are a necessary part of the definition or a description of the offense.

The Court first looks to the main code of “Requirement of Financial Responsibility.” They then found in a separate subsection, “Exceptions to Financial Responsibility,” which Arias relies on. The code only states that a person commits an offense if the person operates a motor vehicle in violation of the “Requirement of Financial Responsibility” section, but the exceptions are not mentioned.

The court finds that because they are not mentioned in the offense, the exceptions are therefore not a necessary part of the definition or description of the offense. This means that these are not exceptions that the State must negate, but merely defenses that the defendant has the option to bring evidence in to prove. Additionally, the State is not generally required to negate as an element of the offense matters “peculiarly within the knowledge of the defendant.” Here, these exceptions are things such as the character of the car, such as older than 25 years old. The court holds that under most circumstances, the defendant would be more likely than the State to know whether one of the exceptions applies.

This can be absolutely crucial for building your defense. An exception can get you acquitted if the State doesn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas a defense is merely a chance to persuade the judge or jury. It appears that the key deciding factor is whether the “exceptions” are listed with the main code or are in a separate subsection.

Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys

When Should You Fight Traffic Offenses

By | Traffic Offenses

Keller Criminal Defense AttorneysIf you’re reading this, odds are that you’ve been ticketed for one or more traffic offenses at some point in your life.  Among the ticket-receiving public, misconceptions and misunderstandings abound regarding whether you should “fight” a ticket. Below is some advice from a former municipal prosecutor in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex…

1) It is unlikely that you can just “talk to a prosecutor” and get your ticket dismissed.
Two to three times a week, most courts hold conferences between the prosecutor and citizens who have violated traffic offenses. During these conferences, most people go to the prosecutor immediately to ask for a dismissal on their citation. I would venture to say that in a metropolitan area, a municipal prosecutor gets asked for a dismissal between 25-50 times per week. Starting your conversation off with a prosecutor by asking for a dismissal is the least effective approach for negotiating a favorable result. The concept of a dismissal is WIDELY misunderstood and the bottom line is that dismissals are rare.

2) Instead of demanding your dismissal, start by pointing out legitimate issues with your ticket.
There are legitimate issues with citations. Those issues can result in dismissals. But for every one legitimate issue, there are one-hundred ridiculous excuses. A municipal prosecutor has heard them all and there is a really good chance that the prosecutor has heard your specific excuse many, many times. Most of the time, people come go to court with an assumption about the law and they hang on to it with everything they are worth. Do some research before coming to court to determine whether you have a “legitimate issue” or just “another excuse”. Whether that means consulting with an attorney or jumping onto Google, come to court with a little research and you may actually put the prosecutor in a better mood.

3) Document your defense.
If you have documentation (especially on vehicle equipment issues, inspections, registrations, licenses, and insurance), bring it to court and have it ORGANIZED and ready for the prosecutor to look at. If there is some legitimate discrepancy between the status of your vehicle or license (on the date of the citation) and the citation you received you might actually get that all-elusive dismissal, but you had better have documentation to support your defense.

4) “Fine, I’ll take it to trial.”
It’s got a nice ring to it, but the reality of a trial is that most cases will come down to the officer’s testimony versus the defendant’s testimony. More than likely, the officer will testify that he’s been an officer for multiple years, been through training and education specifically for observing and enforcing traffic violations. He’ll also testify that he spends 90% of his 8-10 hour shift in and amongst traffic observing traffic and that he was focused solely on looking for your vehicle violating a traffic law. Meanwhile, you’ll testify (if you choose to testify) that you’re number one priority was not following the traffic laws (I dare you to say that it was), but that you were on the way to work, dropping kids off at school, going to the grocery store or had some other objective in mind. The bottom line with trial: The officer will testify that he observed you commit a traffic violation and you’ll testify you didn’t and the judge or jury will decide who they believe.

5) If you really want a chance…
..hire an attorney. He or she will analyze your citation based on current law and the rules of evidence and procedure and not just based on what you heard from your neighbor’s friend’s ex boyfriend. Ultimately, you may decide that hiring an attorney would cost more than it is worth, but it you really want a fighting chance, you should hire an attorney.

DWI defense attorney Fort Worth

DWI: Is Passing on the Shoulder Evidence of a Traffic Offense?

By | DWI

DWI Conviction Overturned | Passing on the Shoulder Permitted in Certain Circumstances

DWI defense attorney Fort WorthIn many ways, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals also acts the State’s highest traffic court. What follows is a synopsis of Lothrop v. State, wherein the CCA opines on the legality of using the right shoulder of a road to pass a slower vehicle.

In Lothrop, the police stopped Appellant after observing him use the right shoulder of the road to pass a vehicle that was slowing down.  Appellant was later arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). At trial, he filed a motion to suppress the evidence gained from the stop, arguing that the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to make the stop. Appellant pointed to Section 545.058(a) of the Texas Transportation Code, which provides:

(a) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway of that operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only:

(1) to stop, stand, or park;

(2) to accelerate before entering the main traveled lane of traffic;

(3) to decelerate before making a right turn;

(4) to pass another vehicle that is slowing or stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn;

(5) to allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass;

(6) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device; or

(7) to avoid a collision.

The trial court denied the motion and Appellant pled guilty to DWI. The 2nd Court of Appeals (Fort Worth) affirmed the conviction, holding that “driving on an improved shoulder, regardless of circumstance, is prima facie evidence of an offense, and that Section 545.058(a) merely establishes defenses that a defendant may raise at trial.”

Think again, said the Traffic Court (a.k.a. CCA):

[T]he offense of illegally driving on an improved shoulder can be proved in one of two ways: either driving on the improved shoulder was not a necessary part of achieving one of the seven approved purposes, or driving on an improved shoulder could not have been done safely. Merely driving on an improved shoulder is not prima facie evidence of an offense. Thus if an officer sees a driver driving on an improved shoulder, and it appears that driving on the improved shoulder was necessary to achieving one of the seven approved purposes, and it is done safely, that officer does not have reasonable suspicion that an offense occurred.

With that, the CCA reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded the case back to the trial court.   So there you have it – your traffic lesson for today from the CCA. You are free to drive on the improved shoulder of the road (without worrying that you will be pulled over) IF you are doing it safely and for one of the seven listed purposes.

Fort Worth DWI defense lawyers

Avoiding a Criminal Charge By Avoiding Obscure Traffic Offenses

By | Traffic Offenses

Obscure Texas Traffic Offenses | Fort Worth Criminal Attorneys

Fort Worth DWI defense lawyersMany of our criminal cases begin with traffic offenses. Something as simple as failing to signal for a lane change can quickly become a DWI investigation if the officer suspects the driver has been drinking. Often, during a traffic stop an officer will ask for consent to search the vehicle and then, depending on what might be in the car, the traffic stop turns into an arrest for possession of an illegal substance or contraband. (Tip: Never give consent to search. Ever.)

We put our heads together to think about some of the more obscure traffic violations about which drivers may not know. We have listed four of them below. The officers on the road know about them, so you should too.

Sec. 544.010(c) – Stopping before the crosswalk or white line. When you approach a streetlight or stop sign you must stop before the white line (or crosswalk line), regardless of where the stop sign or streetlight is positioned. Many times the actual stop sign will be a few yards in front of the line, just begging you to inch a little closer. Resist the urge to stop at the sign. There’s probably a traffic cop right around the corner just waiting for you to mess this one up. (If you are a person that remembers rhymes better…Stop at the line, not at the sign!)

Sec. 545.104(a) – Signal intent to start from a parked position. This is one that I’ll admit I did not know about. When you are parallel parked on a street and you wish to enter the roadway, you must signal your intent to do so. Put on your turn signal and then begin driving into the roadway. (Signal when parked, before you depart.)

Sec. 545.104(b) – Signal turn/lane change 100 feet prior to turn/lane change. We all know that we must signal when making a turn or changing lanes, but many folks do not know that it must be done 100 feet prior to the movement. If you must make a quick turn, any signal is better than none, but the rule says 100 feet. (Before you change lanes or turn on the street, you must signal for 100 feet.)

Sec. 547.322(f) – Separate lamp must be mounted to rear license plate and be visible from 50 feet. You cannot rely on your taillights to illuminate your license plate in Texas. Your license plate, like a special work of art hanging in the lobby of some fancy building, must have its own light so that everyone can clearly read your vanity plates proclaiming IMCOOL. Further, the license plate must be visible from 50 feet away. (When driving at night, do what’s right. Give your license plate a light.)

Criminal Defense Traffic SIgn

Where’s Your Sign? No Traffic Offense if Road Sign Not Visible

By | Drug Crimes

Criminal Defense Traffic SIgnIn Abney v. Statethe Texas Court of Criminal Appeals considered whether an officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop when a vehicle was driving in the left lane of a road without passing.  There was a road sign that prohibited driving in the left lane without passing, but it was located over 20 miles away from where the Appellant was pulled over.

As tends to happen, the police officer found marijuana during the traffic stop. At trial, and on appeal, the Appellant claimed that he did not commit a traffic violation because the road sign was not anywhere near where the stop occurred.  The trial court and 5th Court of Appeals (Dallas) overruled this argument.  The CCA, on the other hand found it meritorious.

The Transportation Code certainly indicates that if there is a sign present that says the left lane is for passing only, then it is a traffic offense to travel in the left lane when not passing another vehicle. Section 544.004(a) states that an operator of a vehicle shall comply with an applicable official traffic control device such as a “left lane for passing only” sign. Without such a sign present within a reasonable distance of the traffic stop, there is no offense.

The CCA reversed the Court of Appeals and held that the officer lack reasonable suspicion to justify the traffic stop.  The evidence should have been suppressed at trial.

Fort Worth DWI Lawyers

Being Left of Center: Reasonable Suspicion for a DWI Stop?

By | DWI

Fort Worth DWI LawyersYou can’t believe anything he says. He tries to sound intelligent and reliable, but falls far short. Did you think I was writing about a political candidate? Nope. A police officer.

The Second District Court of Appeals (Fort Worth) just released State v. Houghton, a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) case that centered around the testimony of the arresting officer.  In this case, the defendant moved to suppress the DWI stop for lack of reasonable suspicion.  At the suppression hearing, the police officer testified that he couldn’t remember why the car initially caught his attention. Perhaps it was for speeding, but he couldn’t say for sure.  He further testified that the car was driving left of center in a lane, but that it never actually crossed over the line.

Granting the motion to suppress, the trial court commented that the officer lacked any credibility. Affirming the trial court’s suppression ruling, the Court of Appeals, held:

To establish reasonable suspicion, the state must show that, at the time of the detention, the officer had specific, articulable facts that established reasonable suspicion.  Terry, 392 U.S. at 21-22, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880… Generally, law enforcement action can only be supported by facts the officer was “actually aware of at the time of that action.” State v. Ruelas, 327 S.W.3d 321, 326-27 (Tex. App.―El Paso 2010, pet. ref’d). As stated by the court in Ruelas, “The preference for objective standards, however, does not apply to the facts on which officers act.” Id. at 326 (holding officer lacked reasonable suspicion where it was not until suppression hearing when state was questioning motorist defendant that officer learned of facts suggesting he violated traffic code by making left turn into right-hand lane).

Here, because the officer failed to offer any justifiable reason for the traffic stop (a reason that was in his mind at the time of the stop, vice at the suppression hearing), the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s suppression of the traffic stop.  A police officer can’t just follow the prosecutor’s lead to justify the stop.  He has to be able to articulate what was going through his mind at the time of the stop.  If is doesn’t amount to reasonable suspicion, the case needs to get kicked.

DWI Lane Change

Lane Ends, Merge Left | Reasonable Suspicion for DWI Stop

By | Traffic Offenses

DWI Lane ChangeBack in 2010, we posted about Mahaffey v. State, a case in which the CCA directed the 12 District Court of Appeals (Tyler) to determine whether a “lane merge” is a “turn” under the Texas Transportation Code, such that it requires a driver to signal.  If a “merge” does not require a turn signal (as the appellant failed to do in this case), then the police stop was improper (without reasonable suspicion) and the evidence of his DWI gained from the stop should have been suppressed.

The 12th Court took another look at the case and once again determined that a “merge” was a “turn” and thus required a turn signal.  Apparently, the 12th Court did not get the CCA’s hint the first time around.

In a 5-3 opinion with Judge Meyers concurring, the CCA reversed (again), holding:

We disagree with the State’s contention that the termination of a lane does not affect whether a driver changes lanes under the signal statute.  As a practical matter, “changing lanes” requires the existence of more than one lane: In order to change lanes from Lane A to Lane B, Lane A must exist.  Appellant did not change lanes.  The two lanes became one. …[N]o signal is required when two lanes become one.

Presiding Judge Keller dissented and was joined by Judges Price and Keasler.  She would hold that because Appellant’s lane ended, he had to change lanes, and that changing lanes requires a turn signal.

Well, it looks like logic prevailed in this one.  You cannot change lanes if there is only one lane in which to drive.  The majority got it right here.  No signal is required for a lane merge.  Remember that if a police officer tries to pull you over for failing to signal.

Reasonable suspicion for driving too slow

Reasonable Suspicion for Traveling Below the Speed Limit?

By | Drug Crimes

Reasonable suspicion for driving too slowDelafuente v. State (14th Court of Appeals) April 3, 2012

I observed a traffic congestion in the inside westbound lane [on Interstate 10 in Waller County].  Traffic volume was moderate.  I inspected further and observed a grey Chevrolet 4 door sedan . . . traveling below the prima facie limit of 65 miles per hour and Impeding Traffic.  I paced the vehicle, which was traveling at approximately 52 miles per hour . . . . I initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle.

This traffic stop led to the search of the vehicle and the seizure of marijuana.  The driver of the vehicle was later convicted of Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana.  The primary question on appeal to the 14th District Court of Appeals (Houston) was whether a vehicle traveling below the speed limit necessarily creates reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop.

The appellate court explained:

Under Texas law, a vehicle “may not drive so slowly as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.” Tex. Transp. Code § 545.363(a). “Slow driving, in and of itself, is not a violation of the statute; a violation only occurs when the normal and reasonable movement of traffic is impeded.” Tex. Dep’t of Pub. Safety v. Gonzales, 276 S.W.3d 88, 93 (Tex. App.–San Antonio 2008, no pet.).

Noting that the only evidence at trial on this issue was the police officer’s report which contains a conclusory statement that appellant was “impeding traffic,” but no articulable facts (other than the speed of his vehicle), the court held that the trial court erred in denying appellant’s motion to suppress.

The dissent believed that there were enough facts in the record to support the stop, and would have upheld the trial court’s ruling.

Analysis: While traveling below the speed limit may indeed be enough to get you pulled over, the officer must indicate, either in his report or on the stand at trial, what specific articulable facts led to the reasonable suspicion that you were “impeding traffic” such that his stop was justified. Short of that, it is an unreasonable stop under that law.

The District and County Attorney’s Association was not too pleased with this opinion. Here is its analysis:

This is the kind of decision that drives me crazy. The officer testified that the defendant was “impeding traffic” based upon his slower speed. The trial court found and ruled in his favor. Should not the trial court’s ruling be upheld? Unfortunately, this holding is line with a similar decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals in which the court held that the State failed to prove that a defendant committed a traffic violation of following too closely because all that the officer testified was that the defendant was following too closely. I suppose that when an officer testifies that the defendant was “impeding traffic,” you should then ask the officer, “In what observable way was the defendant impeding traffic?” Were cars having to constantly go around him? Were they honking? Still, a trial court’s ruling should be upheld if it is supported by the record. Maybe the Court of Criminal Appeals will review this decision, especially since there is a dissenting opinion.