Is there any statutory authority to stop a dually pickup truck because it is missing a mudflap? I've scoured the transportation code and the closest authority I can find is the 547.004 general offense of operating a vehicle that is unsafe so as to endanger a person (AKA "defective equipment"). If this is all I have to rely upon I will need some evidence as to how this was putting persons in danger -- flying gravel perforating hapless hitchhikers perhaps.Another forum member informed Mr. Smith that the only requirement for mudflaps on such vehicles arises if it is towing something, which the driver in question was not.
Any ideas on where there might be some specific authority for this stop?
You see discussion strings like this all the time on the TDCAA user forum, and they always stick in my craw. This ADA has the process back-assward, seeking to justify the stop after the fact instead of insisting that police don't pull people over without cause in the first place. He seems to think his job isn't to evaluate the cop's actions but to rationalize them.
A prosecutor's duty is to seek justice, not convictions. So here we have a prosecutor evaluating a case where there was no legal justification for a traffic stop that he or anybody else can identify. But instead of dismissing the charges, he's seeking to stretch unrelated statutes to justify overreach by police on the street. His suggestion for claiming the truck had "defective equipment" ignores the fact that there's no requirement in the law that the truck have the equipment in question, not to mention no evidence (beyond speculation about "flying gravel perforating hapless hitchhikers") that the vehicle was in fact "unsafe."
This is an example of seeking a conviction instead of justice, and only a naif would say it's an isolated instance.
UPDATE: An attorney from DPS this morning posted a link to DPS' inspection criteria, which require "safety guards or flaps" on such trucks. Mr. Smith is happy to find something to hang his hat on, declaring "The DPS inspection requirements seem to require them on all dually pickups so I'm gonna go with that." However there's no Transportation Code violation and no evidence the vehicle had an invalid inspection sticker. Clearly he'd "go with" any argument that would support the officer's bogus traffic stop. It still strikes me that this fellow is looking for an excuse to justify the stop as opposed to following the law as it's written.