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State v. Arreola: The Law of Pretextual Traffic Stops In the 2012 case of State v. Arreola, the Washington Supreme Court addressed the issue of pretextual traffic stops. A pretextual traffic stop is one in which the officer has a legitimate reason to stop the vehicle, but the real reason for the stop is to investigate other, unrelated criminal activity.

In Arreola, the officer stopped the defendant for failing to signal a turn. However, the officer later admitted that he had been suspicious of the defendant because he was driving a car that was known to be associated with drug trafficking. The officer also asked the defendant about drugs and weapons, and requested consent to search the vehicle. The defendant consented, and the officer found drugs in the vehicle.

The defendant argued that the traffic stop was unconstitutional because it was pretextual. The Washington Supreme Court agreed, holding that a traffic stop is only valid if the officer’s primary reason for the stop is to enforce the traffic laws. If the officer’s primary reason for the stop is to investigate other criminal activity, the stop is unconstitutional.

The Arreola decision clarified the law of pretextual traffic stops in Washington. It made it clear that officers cannot use traffic stops as a pretext to investigate other criminal activity. This decision has helped to protect the rights of motorists in Washington.

State v. Arreola, 176 Wn. 2d 284 (Wash. 2012).

You may also want to check out our articles on when speed measuring certificates are admissible in Washington.  www.

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We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us