Being pulled over by law enforcement can be extremely stressful. When you are being accused of driving under the influence, your head may be spinning. Accusations of DUI are taken seriously by the courts, and someone who is convicted of this crime is facing a lifetime of consequences. You may feel like you must submit to every request of the police officer, or think that their actions are legally justified. However, this is not always the case. Law enforcement can use this to their advantage, harming your defense in court with additional evidence.
Was the officer's search & seizure legal?
One of the ways that law enforcement will seek to obtain information to arrest you for driving under the influence is through search and seizures, which can be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure, which means that police cannot search and seize your person or your property without specific legal justifications. Legal search and seizures can provide information that can be used in your DUI case.
In order for a search and seizure to be legal, the officer:
- Must obtain a valid search or arrest warrant from a judge;
- Have probable cause and reason to believe that you have committed a crime; or
- Have obtained consent from the driver.
Probable cause is most often used in DUI cases when police search a vehicle. Probable cause in DUI cases can be established by using objective and factual evidence (such as swerving across lanes or running red lights) or by visual evidence (like having empty beer cans in the front seat). If probable cause cannot be established, the search was illegal.
When a search and seizure is illegal, none of the evidence seized at the stop or information retrieved as a result of this evidence is admissible in court. This could greatly strengthen your defense and help to clear your name.