Judge Ted Stewart – All brake lights must be working – Motion to Suppress denied

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, vs. BARRY LEE BREWER, Defendant.

Case No. 2:06-CR-408 TS

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81984

October 26, 2006

Defendant moved to suppress evidence found on his person during a traffic stop. The only issue was whether the initial stop was based on reasonable suspicion of a traffic or equipment violation.

On May 17, 2006, an officer with the City of Nephi pulled over a car for a brake light violation. Defendant was a passenger in the car.

“A traffic stop is a Fourth Amendment seizure but it does not violate the Fourth Amendment if it is based on an observed traffic violation or if the police officer has reasonable articulable suspicion that a traffic or equipment violation has occurred or is occurring.” United States v. Laughrin, 438 F.3d 1245, 1247 (10th Cir. 2006)

Defendant acknowledged that the Utah vehicle equipment statutes require that vehicles have at least two operable brake lights on the rear of the vehicle. However defendant contends that since his car had three brake lights (two on the side and one in the rear window), evidence that one brake light was inoperable would not put him violation of the requirement for two brake lights. Therefore, he should not have been pulled over, and the evidence (drugs) found in the vehicle should be suppressed.

The Court disagreed with the defendant and held that the law requires that “all lights which are intended as brake lights work properly.”

Accordingly, because the stop was on the basis of an equipment violation, there is no Fourth Amendment violation.

Motion to Suppress Evidence denied.

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