It’s the moment you’ve dreaded – flashing lights and an angry police officer asking you to step out of the car. Now he’s rifling your possessions and searching through your things. Did you know that you have legal rights concerning search and seizure – even when you’re under suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)? Read on for more information about protecting your rights against illegal search and seizure during a Los Angeles DUI stop.
Every American is protected against unreasonable search and seizure by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, these rights may come into question when you are faced with a DUI search and seizure. Whether a police officer searches your vehicle or not, know that any evidence obtained during the search can be thrown out if it cannot be proven that the search was indeed within your rights.
A reasonable search can only be performed if there is “probable cause” to search through your possessions. Probable cause means that a police officer has reason to believe that you, your possessions, or your actions are causing a threat to others. A police officer may not search your car or other possessions without probable cause. Though in normal circumstances, a police officer must obtain a warrant for a search, the nature of Los Angeles County DUI search and seizure dictates that a police officer only needs probable cause to search you.
If the police officer determines that you are not entitled to expect privacy and that you could prevent a threat if not searched, he or she may search through your possessions without a warrant. Other situations in which it is legal to search a vehicle include situations in which you provide permission to do so; a situation in which you are already under arrest and your car has been impounded for evidence collection purposes; the officer has established probable cause; or the officer has a warrant.
No matter what the circumstances of your DUI search and seizure, you should have the circumstances of your arrest reviewed by a competent Los Angeles County DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. Your Pasadena DUI lawyer might be able to find inconsistencies or lack of probable cause that could lead to throwing out of evidence or dropping of charges. Know your rights – contact Stephen R. Brodsky for a confidential, complimentary case consultation today.