Most impaired driving charges in Virginia begin with a traffic stop. A law enforcement officer may pull you over for violating traffic laws or suspected impaired driving, or you may have your vehicle stopped as part of a roadblock or DUI checkpoint.
If police suspect you are impaired, you may be asked to submit to a breath test or to undergo field sobriety tests. Upon arrest, you will be required to submit to a breath or blood test to determine the level of alcohol or drugs in your system.
Evidence obtained during the traffic stop and after arrest is used by prosecutors in court to secure a conviction. However, not all traffic stops are legal, and illegally obtained evidence cannot be used as evidence against you at trial. An Alexandria DUI stops lawyer can help you to determine if police acted appropriately. Call today to discuss your stop with a DUI lawyer in Alexandria.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that you have the right to be secure in your person and free from unreasonable search and seizure. A traffic stop is a form of seizure and a BAC test is a search.
If a law enforcement officer pulls your vehicle over without just cause, any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal stop may not be used in court to secure a conviction. Your Alexandria DUI stops lawyer can make a motion to the court to suppress the evidence.
If you were pulled over for a justifiable reason but a law enforcement officer did not have probable cause to suspect intoxication, any tests to determine impairment may be considered part of an illegal search. Again, it may be possible to have this evidence suppressed or prevented from being presented in trial.
Without evidence obtained during the traffic stop or the subsequent arrest, a prosecutor may be forced to drop the charges or a judge may dismiss the case due to insufficient evidence.
Roadblocks or checkpoints are sometimes set up in Alexandria to identify people who are driving while impaired. Although the constitutionality of these roadblocks has been questioned, state and federal courts have ruled that DUI roadblocks are permissible as long as certain conditions are met. The checkpoint must be run pursuant to a clear “plan or practice,” and neutral criteria must be used so specific individuals are not targeted.
Lowe v. Commonwealth, established the legality of DUI roadblocks in the state of Virginia in 1985. The defendant argued his rights were violated under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution and under Article 1 Section 10 of the Constitution of Virginia.
The constitutionality of road blocks was justified by the fact that the inconvenience to motorists is minimal and the state has a strong interest in protecting the public from impaired driving.
Roadblocks were addressed again in a 2012 case, Desposito v. Commonwealth. The defendant argued that the checkpoint at which he was stopped was inappropriate because it was open-ended and had no time limit. The court disagreed that the lack of a specific time frame made the checkpoint unconstitutional.
The checkpoint was valid because it would not have been possible for supervisors to target particular individuals. If you believe you were stopped at an unlawful roadblock or checkpoint contact a DUI stops lawyer in Alexandria today.
Whether you are stopped as part of a roadblock checkpoint or are pulled over by a law enforcement officer, you need to understand your legal rights.
An Alexandria DUI stops lawyer can review the circumstances surrounding your interactions with police and help you to determine if there is an argument to be made that your search was illegal. Call today to learn more.
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