Willoughby v. Commonwealth - COA, 1/10/14, to be published
An officer on routine patrol entered a vehicle’s license plate number into his MDT which was linked to the AVIS system. The system responded with “verify proof of insurance.” The officer stopped the vehicle and drugs were subsequently found. The Court of Appeals found there was not enough information in the record about the reliability of the AVIS system to determine whether a “verify proof of insurance” response constituted reasonable suspicion justifying the initial stop. On remand, the trial court is to hear and consider further evidence concerning AVIS, including, but not limited to: what the various indications provided by AVIS mean, both in theory and in practice; whether the database’s “match rate” can be definitively determined; and how (in)frequently an indication of “verify proof of insurance” indicates that a vehicle is uninsured.
Brandon Jewell represented the client on appeal, while Ameer Mabjish represented him at the circuit court level.
Contributed by Emily Rhorer