An officer who stopped a car for its cracked windshield was vindicated today by the Virginia Court of Appeals.
Virginia Beach Officer D.C. Meeks admitted he was more interested in the driver than the windshield. He was tailing the car on May 2, 2009, on a tip the driver was drunk. Spanning two feet, from the driver’s side past the center rear view mirror, the windshield crack was hard to ignore. But the commonwealth stipulated the windshield would pass state inspection.
The officer said he stops vehicles for defective equipment, and he informed driver John Daley that’s why he was stopped. When asked for his license, Daley admitted his license was suspended.
At Daley’s trial, the judge threw out the evidence because the commonwealth’s articulated reason for the stop was “conjecture or speculation.”
The “officer’s subjective reasons for the stop are irrelevant. Whether or not he articulated to the trial court that he believed the cracked windshield was a traffic violation” is not required under Terry v. Ohio, the court said in its unpublished opinion in Commonwealth v. Daley.
Based on the size and location of the crack, the officer had a right to stop the vehicle to investigate the crack.
The panel reversed the suppression order and sent the case back to the Virginia Beach trial court.
By Deborah Elkins