A Motion to Quash and Suppress: A Legal Maneuver to Win Your Case
By: Attorney Eric Tibbs
Many of our clients at Driver Defense Team call us with one main question: What can you do to “win” my case? This can be a very difficult question to answer because “winning” a case can take many different forms when it comes to criminal or traffic cases. Winning can mean that – after negotiating with a prosecutor – you received a favorable outcome. The most obvious example of a favorable outcome is being found “not guilty” at trial, where there’s no penalty assessed against you and nothing appears on your background. Another very common favorable outcome in Illinois is court supervision, meaning the ticket will not be a conviction on your background.
A lesser known approach to achieving a favorable outcome in your case may take the form of a Motion to Quash and Suppress the Arrest. This legal maneuver is used in criminal cases to keep certain evidence out of court. This evidence would have been gathered by a police officer and is then attempted to be presented by the prosecutor. How can this evidence be excluded? The evidence can be excluded if the officer does not have a basis or “articulable, reasonable suspicion” to initiate a traffic stop. In the specific case we will discuss, the basis of the traffic stop came down to one small item: an air freshener.
The Illinois Vehicle Code does not allow for obstructions of the driver’s view when operating a vehicle. This client received a “driving while license revoked” ticket and hired Driver Defense Team for their defense. Our client’s license was revoked for a DUI they received several years before. They were actually in the process of trying to get their license back from the Illinois Secretary of State at the time of the ticket.
So, what happened? One day, they had the unfortunate luck of driving a vehicle with an air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. An officer pulled them over and said the reason for the stop was the air freshener. There was no other reason for the stop, such as: speeding, improper lane usage, or running a stop sign. Unfortunately, our client’s license was revoked and they were driving a car, so it didn’t seem like much could be done other than to enter a plea and hope to get a favorable agreement. This is where the Motion to Quash and Suppress was used to our client’s advantage. In order to be successful with the filing and arguing of a Motion to Quash and Suppress, you need to show that the officer had no basis to initiate the traffic stop, and that everything after the traffic stop should not be allowed to be used by the prosecutor in the case against our client.
There is specific case law in Illinois that addresses whether an air freshener, that is just about 4 inches by 4 inches, can be hung from a rear-view mirror when a person is driving a motor vehicle. People v. Mott is an Illinois Appellate case that states that an object that is hanging from a rear-view mirror, must “materially obstruct” the view of the driver, where he or she cannot safely operate a car.
In our client’s case, the air freshener in their vehicle was so small that when we argued the Motion to Quash and Suppress the judge agreed. The judge found that the air freshener was of such a small size, that it could not be thought of as a material obstruction to the driver’s view. As a result, our Motion to Quash and Suppress was granted, and the “driving while revoked” ticket was dismissed. This allowed our client to resume the driver’s license reinstatement process of having a hearing in front of the Illinois Secretary of State which would make sure that they acquired a valid driver’s license for the future.
This is just one example of how a Motion to Quash and Suppress may be used to effectively represent our clients at Driver Defense Team. We utilize every resource to give all our clients the best possible outcome for their case. We have nearly 100 years of experience and we focus exclusively on traffic and criminal cases. Call our team to see if we can assist you today!