Unlawful Police Stops
DUIs and The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens of the United States against unlawful searches and seizures of property. This right plays a large role in many DUI cases. In order to lawfully stop your vehicle, law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime. To lawfully search your vehicle, law enforcement must have probable cause or your consent. If you were arrested for drunk driving at an unlawful police stop, then your entire case could be thrown out.
Reasonable Suspicion for a Stop
Unless you are being halted at a DUI checkpoint, law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion to pull your vehicle over and question you. In some cases, reasonable suspicion has nothing to do with driving erratically or other signs of intoxication. It could be something as simple as failing to use your turn signal or rolling a stop. Reasonable suspicion can include:
- Weaving in and out of your lane
- Headlights not on
- Expired registration
Probable Cause for a Search or Seizure
In order to search you or your vehicle, law enforcement must have probable cause that you committed a crime or your consent. You are in no way required to give consent to a search. Police officers can phrase their requests in such a way to make you believe your consent is required, but it is not. Once police have stopped your vehicle, any one of the following can give them probable cause to ask you to step out of the vehicle or search your vehicle:
- Smelling alcohol on your breath/person
- Observing bloodshot eyes
- Seeing an open container of alcohol/drugs in your car
- Receiving a hostile response from you
Motion to Dismiss DUI Evidence
If you were arrested under suspicion of drunk driving and charged with DUI after a chemical test, you still may be able to get your case dismissed if your defense attorney can show that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. If the only evidence against you resulted from an unlawful police stop, then your attorney could file a motion to dismiss the evidence. This often results in DUI case dismissals.
Contacting Gold & Witham
If you are facing drunk driving charges, we invite you to contact the South Bay DUI attorneys at Gold & Witham. We have more than 40 years of experience in our corner and the proven defense tactics you need to combat DUI penalties like license suspension, fines, and jail time. For a free evaluation of your case, contact our firm today!