Traffic Stop for Not Wearing Seat Belt Lead to Drug Charges
In Hutch v. State, 922 S.W.2d 166 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996), a prosecution for possession of cocaine grew out of a traffic stop for failing to wear seat belts.
The defendant testified at trial that he and the other person in the car were wearing seat belts.
The jury charge included an article 38.23 instruction, but the instruction was erroneously worded.
The instruction told the jury that the stop was unlawful, and that the evidence seized should not be considered, if the jury found that the occupants of the car were not wearing their seat belts. See Hutch, 922 S.W.2d at 169.
Thus, if the jury found that the occupants of the car were wearing their seat belts as the defendant testified, the stop was lawful and the evidence could be considered.
The court of criminal appeals found this charge error, to which there was no trial objection, egregiously harmful under the circumstances. See id. at 174.