There are a few issues you’ll notice that I’m passionate about. One of them is ending checkpoints because they do not comply with the Arkansas Rules of Criminal Procedure. They are a massive exception to the Fourth Amendment. Another topic is the one I want to address today: failure to use a turn signal.
The law seems quite clear that one need only use a turn signal “in the event that any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.” Ark. Code Ann. § 27-51-403 (2010). Police everywhere seem to think that one must signal for every lane change and every turn. Continually, I see individuals pleading guilty to offenses when they were stopped for not using their turn signal even when no one was affected. The real issue lies with the criminal defense attorneys, both private and public, and the judges out there who do not know the law. An experienced criminal defense attorney should know this law and be able to use it to suppress evidence.
Fortunately, that is all going to change in the next six months or so. While sitting in Garland County Circuit Court this morning, a gentleman by the name of Larry Honeycutt had his client a conditional guilty plea so that he can appeal the denial of a motion to suppress. The client was pulled over for failing to signal and charged with DWI III. Obviously, the circuit court ruled against him, and now it’s off to the appellate courts. One can only pray that with massive amounts of persuasive authority, as well as an attorney general opinion on our side, there will be a victory for the defense. Things can always go wrong, but I feel confident that the people of Arkansas will be free of police intrusion for failing to signal.
Although, we all know that will just lead to more “crossed the center line” and illegitimate speeding claims in order to justify pre-textual stops. For today, I’ll go ahead and celebrate the upcoming victory…it may be small but we have to take what we can get!