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U-Turn to Avoid DUI Checklane Led to Valid Stop

Before an officer can pull someone over, they must be able to articulate reasonable suspicion of a crime. What if the person performs a U-Turn to avoid a DUI checklane? In State v. Kotas 35 Kan.App.2d 769, 134 P.3d 677 (2006), the Court addressed the issue of whether the police officer was able to lawfully pull someone over for performing the DUI, to apparently avoid the drunk driving check point. In this case, the officer had been assigned to chase vehicles which eluded the DUI checkpoint and to stop them if they committed any traffic violations. The officer observed the Defendant, Kotas, make a U-turn across solid double yellow lines. and caused several vehicles behind him to slow down. The officer pulled Kotas over for making a U-turn when not safe and

clear as well as DUI. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress, based on the officer lacking reasonable suspicion to perform the stop. The district court overruled the motion, stating that it was reasonable for the officer to think the U-Turn was illegal. Later, under a motion to reconsider, the court suppressed the evidence, holding that the

deputy's application was not objectively reasonable. (See Knight­) When the case was appealed, the court held that the officer did have enough reasonable suspicion to pull the Defendant over.

This case can drive a criminal defense lawyer crazy. You lose. You win. You lose. As a DUI defense attorney, one could see similar events in a current and still not know for sure how the courts will react to a motion to suppress evidence.