There are specific constitutional requirements expected of law enforcement if they perform a body or vehicle search. Investigations of driving under the influence (DUI) are subject to these same requirements. A search may be deemed unreasonable if it violates your constitutional rights and does not abide by specific procedural safeguards put in place to protect you. A skilled DUI attorney knows how to analyze a case to look for any issues related to Fourth Amendment search and seizure rights.
For help with unreasonable searches in Charleston DUI cases, you should speak with a qualified defense team. An unreasonable search may result in a dismissal of the charges against you or exclusion of certain evidence.
Search and Seizure Requirements in DUI Investigations
Just because an officer stops a vehicle to investigate a potential driving under the influence (DUI) charge, it does not necessarily mean they have the ability to initiate another type of search. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects a person’s rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. These very specific requirements have been created to protect citizens from overzealous or abusive officers.
Many searches and seizures require warrants, but there are a significant number of exceptions which often apply in a DUI/DUAC investigation. For instance, officers are permitted to conduct a pat down as part of a legal traffic stop for their own safety. If someone who was searched during a DUI/DUAC traffic stop thinks that an officer violated a rule, they should reach out to a Charleston attorney right away.
An officer is required to justify the initial traffic stop with a showing of reasonable suspicion that the defendant violated the law in some way, often a traffic offense such as speeding or running a stop signal. Pulling a person over is considered a form of seizure subject to constitutional protections.
Exceptions to Warrant Requirements
Many exceptions exist to warrant requirements in order to permit a search. These include, but are not limited to:
- Plain view exception
- Automobile exception
- Hot pursuit exception
- Searches incident to lawful arrest
- Consent exception
If errors occur in how law enforcement effectuate a search, a Charleston defense attorney can identify them to seek a favorable resolution or full dismissal of the DUI or DUAC charges.
Sobriety Checkpoints in Charleston
One of the most contentious search and seizure issues revolves around the use of sobriety checkpoints. These permit officers to do a brief safety check without any reasonable suspicion of a crime. They can pull over everybody passing through that point.
These checkpoints are subject to strict requirements. If violated, the checkpoint may be considered unconstitutional and permit a defendant to suppress any evidence found as a result of the checkpoint.
An eagle-eyed attorney in Charleston could navigate the nuances of sobriety checkpoints and create a strong defense against the officer that performed the unreasonable DUI search.
Defense Strategies Following an Illegal Search
If the police violate a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights as part of the DUI investigation, a Charleston attorney may present those violations as a rebuttal to the charges. This is typically accomplished through filing a suppression motion.
A suppression motion seeks to exclude any evidence collected from the illegal search. If evidence is suppressed, it often makes it difficult or impossible for the prosecutor to prove their case. If applicable, this can be a powerful defense to help a defendant avoid DUI charges.
Call a Charleston DUI Defense Attorney Now
Handling your defense properly takes experience in the criminal justice system and a knowledge of constitutional safeguards. The Fourth Amendment may provide you constitutional protections, but only with an ally who has a full understanding of what they are and how to defend them.
To build your defense to unreasonable searches in Charleston DUI cases, contact a qualified defense attorney right away. Schedule your consultation by calling our office today.