You are driving your car in DC. The same car you have been driving for years with the same object hanging from the rear view mirror that you have had since high school. It might be the tassel from your graduation cap, a religious medallion, maybe an air freshener as the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) officers seem to like to hand from their rear view mirrors. All of a sudden you see red and blue lights flashing and get pulled over for driving with an “object hanging as to obstruct.”
According to the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations:
“No vehicle operated on the highways of the District shall have any object attached to or suspended from the rear view mirror or rear view mirror bracket; or have any object attached to or suspended from the windshield, the rear window, the front side windows, or the frame of the windshield, rear window, or any front side window.” ( DCMR 22-2213.7)
This means that the police in Washington, DC can stop you if you have anything at all hanging on your rear view mirror. These types of stops have been the subject of a great deal controversy for years. The police often use this or other seemingly minor traffic infracts as a pretext to search the car or question the driver. It is very rare that a car is stopped solely for the purpose of issuing a ticket for having an air freshener handing in the window. They police are hoping they will find drugs or guns, or find someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol.
While every situation is different, you should speak with your Washington, DC DUI attorney if you have been stopped for having something hanging on your rear view mirror. You attorney may wish to file a motion to suppress evidence based upon an illegal search and seizure of your vehicle. While it is true that this is an a real traffic infraction in the District of Columbia, the government still needs to prove that the police were really able to see that small object handing on your mirror, at night, from behind you, while traveling at 25 miles an hour.
If the court determines that your vehicle was stopped in violation for your Forth Amendment Right to free from unreasonable search and seizure, anything that stems from that illegal traffic stop is not admissible at trial. This basically means that if your lawyer’s motion to suppress evidence is granted in a Washington, DC DUI case, the case against you is over because they government can’t introduce any evidence against you at trial connected with the stop of your vehicle.