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DUI Trial Testimony: Basis for Car Stop

Jamison KoehlerDUI and Driving Offenses, Trial Advocacy

Q:            Officer, as I understand it, you were parked behind my client at the intersection of 19th and M Streets northwest?

A:            Yes.

Q:            And there were two reasons you decided to pull him over?

A:            Yes.

Q:            The first reason was that he didn’t pull forward immediately when the light turned green?

A:            Yes, I was concerned that –

Q:            — And the second reason is that when he did pull forward, he drove too slowly?

A:            Yes, I –

Q:            — Let’s start with the not pulling forward.  You testified on direct that you honked your horn at him?

A:            I used the air horn.

Q:            And when you first testified to this, you said that you honked your horn a couple of times?

A:            It was the air horn.  I hit it one time and a couple of seconds went by, he wasn’t moving, so I hit it a couple of more times.

Q:            A couple.  A couple, as I understand it, is two.  Is that your understanding?

A:            Well, it depends, you know if –

Q:            Sir, it’s a simple question.  When I ask you what couple means –

THE COURT:  You have to let him answer.

Q:            Fair enough.

A:            It  — it depends and mostly concern – it – it – of the traffic.  I hit it one time, that – that one should have been enough for him to react and move across the light.  He –

Q:            Sir, I am not asking for an explanation.  I am asking for your interpretation of the word couple.  A couple, what does that mean to you, sir?

A:            Well, if you’re going with – do you want a specific definition?

Q:            Yes, please.

A:            Two.

Q:            Two?

A:            Yes, two.

Q:            Thank you.  Then you testified – the second time you were asked about it, you testified that it was three times that you blew the horn, right?

A:            Yes.

Q:            Okay.  And then, the third time you were asked about it, you said that you blew the horn four times, right?

A:            It was a total of four times from the first —

Q:            — Okay.  So – so –

A:            — to the final –

THE PROSECUTOR:  Objection, Judge.

THE COURT:  Basis.

THE PROSECUTOR:  I – just from what’s in evidence, it was my understanding that he testified he blew the horn four times.  I don’t know where this –

THE COURT:  Well, it’s cross examination.

THE PROSECUTOR:  Very well, Judge.

Q:            First you testified it was two times, then it was three times, then it was four?

A:            I blew the horn four times, from the initial time to when he decided to pull forward.

Q:            I see.  And the other reason you pulled him over was once he did pull forward he was driving too slow?

A:            Yes, I was concerned –

Q:            What is the speed limit on 19th going south?

A:            Should be 25 miles, unless otherwise posted.  That’s the speed limit in the District of Columbia.

Q:            And you testified on direct that he was going 20 miles —

A:            — I was concerned for the safety –

Q:            — Again, officer, I am not asking for an explanation.  I am asking how fast he was going.

A:            He was going 20 miles an hour.

Q:            This is in Georgetown

A:            Actually it is part of the triangle with Dupont –

Q:            — So it is near Georgetown?

A:            Yes.

Q:            And Thursday nights are pretty busy?

A:            Yes.

Q:            With lots of people out on the street and at clubs and restaurants?

A:            Yes, mostly restaurants –

Q:            Was it busy on this night?

A:            Yes, I would say so.

Q:            He wasn’t swerving?

A:            No.

Q:            He didn’t cross the center line?

A:            No.

Q:            He didn’t endanger anyone?

A:            Well, at that time, crossing any line, there was vehicles right when you went southbound from M Street, because it’s a majority of restaurants.  On the west side of the street, there were vehicles parked on both sides.  But, once we started going halfway down the block approaching L Street, there were parking spaces.

Q:            Okay.  And how does that answer my question?

A:            No, were you asking – concern endangering, I was concerned about the safety –

Q:            You already testified to that.  Were you concerned the court didn’t hear your answer the first time?

THE COURT:            Counselor, you can move – you can move on.

Q:            I’ll move on, I’ll move on.  Officer, did my client commit a traffic violation?

A:            It – mostly, my concern was the – slow reaction to the long traffic light –

Q:            Sir, I’m not asking you what your concern was.  I’m asking you – this is a yes or no question – -did he commit a traffic violation?

A:            He didn’t commit a traffic violation, but –

Q:            Thank you – thank you, sir.  I have no further questions.