The Campaign For DA

3.24.2010

You Play Judge

A guy is charged with possession of a controlled substance after dope is found in his car after a traffic stop. The reason for the stop was that he had his front license plate behind his windshield. The statute the cop relied upon to make the stop says:
A person commits an offense if the person operates on a public highway . . . a passenger car or commercial motor vehicle that does not display two license plates, at the front and rear of the vehicle . . . .
The defendant files a Motion to Suppress before the trial judge asserting the State can't use the dope they found in the car against him if they did not have a legal reason to stop the car. That's a true statement of the law. But the question it, does having a license plate behind the windshield constitute having the plate at the "front . . . of the vehicle?" Sadly, as of now, the answer depends on whether you are before an appellate court in Austin (who says "no" and the guy goes free) or Amarillo (who says "yes" and the guy is now a convicted felon). If this happened in Wise County, the case goes to the Fort Worth Court of Appeals who gets to make their own decision.