Constitutional issues sometimes arise in DUI cases. Most often, they involve a violation of someone’s Fourth Amendment rights, including lack of probable cause for a DUID stop. Some other issues could include a Fifth Amendment violation, though that is less common in Henrico County. If you suspect that your constitutional rights have been violated during a DUI stop, consult with a Henrico County DUI attorney. They will be able to ascertain whether this is the case, and then determine the best course of action in defending you in court.
The most common constitutional issues in Henrico DUI cases involve Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues or stop issues. Typically, this involves probable cause for a stop or a subsequent search, and probable cause for an arrest. Regarding DUID charges, probable cause is also needed to search your vehicle and to seize your property, including your blood. All of these issues are really paramount in reviewing a DUI case.
In a DUI case, the Fourth Amendment grants you protection from an unlawful search and seizure. If an officer stops you and questions you, they need probable cause to actually stop you. They cannot stop you for whatever reason they want, there has to be some legal cause of action for it.
In addition to that, an officer needs probable cause to search and arrest you for a DUI. If you have passed the entire test and you provide a low blood alcohol sample, the officer still needs probable cause to arrest you. Those are issues we can always develop, and if the court feels that there has been a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, they will often throw the case out.
Very simply, a warrantless search is when an officer conducts a search without a warrant. In many cases an officer can do this without obtaining a warrant if they fear for their safety. It is considered a safety search to make sure that there are no weapons or anything like that, or if there is reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal behavior. If an officer sees or smells drugs or drug tools like a scale or baggies, they can conduct a search at that point.
Another constitutional issue lawyers see in DUI cases from time to time involves the Fifth Amendment and self-incrimination issues. The main constitutional issues we have seen in DUI cases are around the Fourth Amendment. Every once in a while there will be a Fifth Amendment issue where statements are used against an individual who was not properly advised of their rights. This involves the Fifth Amendment and the right against self-incrimination.
Henrico County will follow the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States first and foremost on these constitutional issues. If there is no Supreme Court case which dictates the rules, it will then follow the Virginia Supreme Court’s cases. If the courts do find that there is a constitutional violation they will move to dismiss the charge. If we can find the violation, even if it is a minor one, we can usually use that to negotiate with prosecutors to get your charge possibly dismissed or significantly reduced.
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