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Constitutional Issues in Richmond DUI Cases

If you are accused of driving under the influence in Richmond, the following is information you should know regarding potential constitutional issues that could arise. To discuss constitutional issues involving your case, call and schedule a consultation with a Richmond DUI lawyer today.

Common Constitutional Issues

The most common constitutional issues in Richmond DUI cases involve Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues. Typically, this involves probable cause for the stop, probable cause for a search, and probable cause for an arrest.  Seeing blood and/or drugs in the vehicle would be considered probable cause to search or seize property from you regarding DUI drug charges.

In addition to these Fourth Amendment issues, fifth amendment issues regarding self-incrimination may also come into play.

Fourth Amendment Issues in DUI Cases

In a DUI case, the Fourth Amendment grants your protection from an unlawful search and seizure, which involves how an officer can stop you and question you. An officer needs probable cause to stop you in the first place, there has to be some legal cause of action.

Additionally, an officer needs probable cause to search you and to arrest you for DUI. If you were to pass all your tests and provide a low blood alcohol level on the field sample, the officer still needs probable cause to arrest you.

What Does Search and Seizure Mean?

The search and seizure means the search of you and your property. What we are referring to here is an officer questioning you, searching your person, and taking a blood sample or breath sample from you. Seizure means detaining you for purposes of this investigation. If an officer cannot show probable cause for an arrest or for DUI, then any search or any results of the search and seizure are invalid.

What is An Unreasonable Search?

An unreasonable search is a search conducted by the officer without probable cause. In other words, the officer searches your vehicle for no reason at all other than the fact that they just want to search your vehicle. If you are stopped for speeding and there is no other indication of drug or alcohol use, and they demand to search your vehicle and do so without your consent, this would be an unreasonable search.

What is a Warrantless Search?

A warrantless search is when an officer conducts a search without a warrant. In many cases, an officer can actually do this without obtaining a warrant if they fear for their safety, or if there is reasonable or articulable suspicion of criminal activity.  If they see drugs, smell drugs, see drug tools, see illegal activity, a firearm, or alcohol, they will conduct a search at that point.

How These Constitutional Issues Are Treated

The city of Richmond will follow the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States, first and foremost, on these constitutional issues. Obviously, if there is a US Supreme Court case, it would outweigh any Virginia Supreme Court case.