Wrong DMV Records Can Justify MV Stop – State v. Pitcher

This morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Pitcher involves a motor vehicle stop that the police made based upon DMV records that later turned out to be incorrect. In effecting the stop, the police relied upon computer generated records that indicated the defendant was on the revoked list. As a result of the motor vehicle stop, the defendant was also found to be intoxicated. The DMV records upon which the police relied were incorrect and the defendant was not on the revoked list at the time of the stop.

The defendant’s motion to suppress was based on the fact that New Jersey does not recognize a “good faith” exception to the warrant requirement. The Appellate Division distinguished this argument and held that the legal issues related to “good faith” do not apply in this case. The key issue was whether the police acted reasonably in relying on the DMV records.

The Appellate panel held that the police actions in this case were reasonable.

Please note in the case the discussion about the quantum of suspicion necessary to effect a motor vehicle stop. Some authority indicates that probable cause is required while other cases hold that only a reasonable suspicion is needed.

Download a copy of State v. Pitcher

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