Searches and Seizures in DC DUI Cases

In any DUI case, the police must justify their interaction with the person charged with a DUI. No racial profiling or random stops are acceptable. A police officer without a warrant must have a lawful reason to stop someone, whether they are a pedestrian on the street or an individual in a car. When the police do not have a lawful reason for the stop to present in a case, a successful argument against the Constitutionality of the stop wins the argument.

While being arrested, an individual might assume that searches and seizures in DC DUI cases require consent. Officers are not allowed to search individuals unless they have probable cause or a warrant. When an officer conducts an illegal search, they are infringing on someone’s constitutional rights, an issue that tends to come up in DUI cases. If you have been subjected to an unreasonable search, seek the counsel of an experienced impaired driving lawyer.

Legal Definition of Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution states the that people have the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” against unreasonable search and seizures. The key is unreasonable search and seizure. The illegal search occurs when the police infringe upon an expectation of privacy and a person’s belongings. Searches and seizures in DC DUI cases

Seizure is when the police take those belongings as evidence against the person. The authorities must have a warrant or consent to the search or probable cause, and an individual must also have protections on the Fourth Amendment, meaning they must have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In other words, if someone has drugs on their person in public and sees a police officer, they may be afraid of searches and seizures in DC DUI cases so they hide the drugs underneath bushes nearby. If the police see them do that, they have probable cause to believe that the person has contraband. If they find the contraband in the bushes, the person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that location because it is not their private location.

Unreasonable Search

An unreasonable search is one that is unlawful and is conducted without legal authority. If a police officer pulls a driver over for running a stop sign and that is the only thing the officer can find wrong. If the officer searches the vehicle over the objection of the driver and finds contraband they intend to seize and use against the driver, that is an unreasonable search. If the police officer cannot justify why they have probable cause to conduct the search and they have no warrant, that is an unreasonable search.

The police cannot walk into someone’s home without a warrant and start searching. That is an unreasonable search unless the authorities can identify a specific reason. It would be extremely difficult for them to testify about searching someone’s home if they did so without securing a warrant first. Anything that involves the police stopping and searching an individual without a warrant or probable cause to believe the individual is involved in illegal activity could be deemed an unreasonable search.

What are Other Common Constitutional Issues?

The Fifth Amendment protects an individual from incriminating themselves. There are constitutional rights for a person to have an attorney. There are the Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure. The police cannot draw blood from a person when there was no accident and the person does not consent to the blood draw.

That would be an unlawful search and seizure. Every case is different and it is not uncommon to see issues with searches and seizures in DC DUI cases, which is why it is important to retain the services of a DUI lawyer. A determined DUI lawyer can help protect an individual’s rights pertaining to searches and seizures in DC DUI cases.

Role of Search Warrants

A warrant in a search is a writ issued by a judge that allows law enforcement to conduct a search. When a police officer has an arrest warrant, they can arrest the individual and then search their person or their immediate surroundings.

When the police officer has a search warrant, the search warrant defines exactly what is to be searched and what they are specifically looking for. The warrant can apply to a home, a vehicle, and anything that the police do not readily see and seize within the reach of an individual they arrest.

Law enforcement officers must show they have properly obtained warrants for searches and seizures in DC DUI cases. If not, they must show they have probable cause to conduct the search. When the search is related to an arrest and they perform a search of that person or their surroundings, the police officer must show the arrest is lawful to uphold the subsequent search.

Impact of Constitutional Issues

When the government relies on the investigation performed by the police at the scene and at the police station there can be critical Fourth Amendment issues in DC DUI cases. If law enforcement did not follow the proper procedures and violated the person’s Constitutional rights, their statements and evidence can be suppressed. The DUI case against the person may be significantly weakened when the Constitutional protections were violated by the police.

The District of Columbia treats Fourth Amendment Constitutional issues most seriously in DUI cases. Any court treats the Constitutional issues in any case seriously because when a person’s Constitutional rights are violated, there is the possibility that an adverse decision on that issue can be overturned. No judge wants to be overturned on appeal, so any Constitutional issue in a case receives close attention.