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Limitations on the Fellow Officer Rule in DUI Cases

By: M. Dye
Date Added : August 18, 2012 Views : 16675
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Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court heard a DUI appeal with major implications. In the case of State vs. Bowers, the Defendant was arrested and charged with DUI as well as minor drug charges. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress challenging the validity of the traffic stop. A hearing was held on the motion to suppress and the State only called as a witness the second officer who performed the DUI investigation and the arrest. The officer that carried out the DUI investigation and arrest testified that he never saw the Defendant drive her car and that his full understanding of the traffic stop was determined by what was told to him by the officer who made the stop. The Defendant\'s lawyer objected on hearsay grounds. The State countered using the line of reasoning that the statements were admissible since the \"fellow officer rule\" or \"collective knowledge doctrine\" allowed the arresting officer to testify concerning what he had been told by the officer making the traffic stop.While the county court overruled the hearsay objection, it granted Defendant\'s motion to suppress based on the court\'s inability to get clarification in relation to issues surrounding the stop. The case ultimately worked it\'s way up to the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the fellow officer rule is intended to help officers in the field by enabling them to rely on their collective knowledge when determining probable cause and making an arrest decision. Nevertheless, the fellow officer rule is not a rule of evidence and cannot be used to bypass the hearsay rules of evidence. Consequently, the officer who carried out the DUI investigation and arrest should not have been allowed to testify regarding the facts and circumstances leading to the traffic stop along with the investigation that followed because the arresting officer had no firsthand knowledge of such.

Michael Dye and Daniel Rosenberg are DUI Attorneys located in Broward County Florida. For further information please visit their websites at these links: Michael Dye Broward County DUI Attorney Daniel Rosenberg Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney.

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