In DUI cases there are a variety of constitutional issues that could potentially come into play. Below, a Norfolk DUI lawyer discusses these issues and the impact it could have if they were violated. To learn more or discuss whether your rights have been violated, call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.
In Norfolk DUI cases, the most common constitutional issues involve violations of the Fourth Amendment. These include issues about probable cause for search and seizure, which come into play when we look at the reason that the officer pulled over the defendant in the first place, and then if there was enough probable cause for the officer to make an arrest for DUI.
This is important because if the stop was invalid, then the rest of the facts no longer matter anymore because they have become fruit of a poisonous tree, which means that the case should be dismissed without analyzing any of the facts related to the actual DUI itself.
The Fourth Amendment protects drivers from unlawful search and seizures. For a DUI, this means that an officer needs to have a valid reason to stop your vehicle and a valid reason to arrest you for a DUI. They cannot just pull over a vehicle without reasonable articulable suspicion and they cannot just arrest someone for a DUI without probable cause.
An unreasonable search happens when a police officer does not have enough probable cause for a search or reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime is taking place. Law enforcement cannot arbitrarily decide to search someone or their vehicle without a valid reason to do so or without that person’s consent.
Officers need to show that there is probable cause for the search or that they have reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. If there is an open container of alcohol in plain view inside the vehicle, for example, then this is enough probable cause for a search.
Other constitutional issues that come up are Fifth Amendment issues. These have to do with Miranda rights and whether the defendant is read their rights after they are arrested and before they are questioned. It really only becomes an issue if the defendant is questioned after an arrest because if they incriminate themselves, then such an admission cannott be admitted into court as evidence unless the defendant was aware of their rights before they made a statement. The way that they become aware of their rights is by having their Miranda rights read to them before they’re interrogated.
Norfolk always takes these constitutional issues very seriously. Many times in these kinds of cases, these issues will be the strongest factors determining whether a case will be reviewed or dismissed. Whether the stop was valid is the first thing that most attorneys look for in a case, because if you can win at this point then the court generally will agree to dismiss the case. The court follows the US Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution.
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