The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco just overturned a DMV suspension for one of Mr. Gould’s motorist clients. In Miller v. Department of Motor Vehicles (May 2, 2018; A147050), a unanimous appellate panel agreed with Mr. Gould that the motorist’s arrest was illegal and that therefore, so was the suspension of his license.
In the wee hours of the morning of July 31, 2014, CHP Officer Christopher Pettyjohn was investigating a single car collision in an unincorporated area of Humboldt County. The vehicle was registered to Mr. Miller at an address some two miles away. Officer Pettyjohn, under the pretense of “checking his well-being,” directed another officer to Miller’s house. The second officer gained entrance to the house through Miller’s roommate and then barged into Miller’s bedroom and awakened him. He ordered Miller outside and waited for Pettyjohn to arrive. When Officer Pettyjohn arrived, he initiated a DUI investigation and ultimately arrested Miller for DUI.
When DMV suspended Miller’s driver’s license administratively, he hired an attorney to file a writ petition. The judge in Humboldt County refused to issue the writ. Then Miller hired Mr. Gould.
Mr. Gould argued on appeal that there was no justification for the police officers to go into Miller’s bedroom. There were no exigent circumstances to justify it, nor any permission to enter his bedroom granted, as the roommate did not have the authority to give that permission.
“We conclude that Miller’s detention was not lawful. A vehicle involved in a single-car accident without more does not indicate that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, nor do these facts indicate that there was any criminal activity afoot or that Miller was in danger of any physical harm. Since Miller’s detention was not lawful, his arrest, following his failed field sobriety and breath tests, was similarly unlawful.”
If you believe you were treated unfairly by the police, it may not be too late to fix it. Call Mr. Gould for a free consultation.