A client of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys recently found himself in some trouble after being stopped by law enforcement during a Bedford County music festival. Knowing this festival was occurring, law enforcement camped out on a nearby road where a bridge was out so they could pull people over and potentially investigate for drugs.
The client encountered an officer when he drove near the inoperable bridge. The police claim he drove past the “road closed” sign, so that is why he was pulled over. During the stop, they smelled marijuana, searched the vehicle, found the pot, and eventually did a blood draw. This test revealed that marijuana was in the client’s system, so he was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) and possession of marijuana. Wanting to avoid the potential penalties that would stem from a conviction on these offenses – which would include jail time and a lengthy driver’s license suspension – the client reached out to Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer Matthew Ness for help.
The client maintained that despite the officer’s claims, he did not pass the “road closed” sign. Rather, it was about 300 yards in front of where he stopped. Upon seeing a sign stating, “road closed 500 yards ahead,” he got close, did a three-point turn, and began the detour.
Wanting to protect his client’s future, attorney Ness took this information and filed a motion to suppress. He eventually took the case to court, where he called the officer on the inconsistent claims made related to the client’s case.
Attorney Ness supported his arguments by obtaining a copy of the Temporary Traffic Control Plan – a PennDOT-required document that indicates where all signs on a highway should go during a construction project – and comparing it to a Google Maps image of the location in question. Attorney Ness even went to the scene of his client’s stop and measured where the signs should have been. Using these maps, and the officer’s motor vehicle recording, attorney Ness cross-examined the officer’s in relation to the claims that the client drove past the posted signs.
The judge agreed, stating that where the signs should have been matched the video. As such, the judge ruled that the stop was invalid, and that it involved an illegal seizure/a violation of the client’s Fourth Amendment rights. As a result, the client’s charges were thrown out.
The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.