When you get arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you may feel like your case is hopeless. Fortunately, several defense strategies can lead to an acquittal or the dismissal of your case. Among these strategies, challenging a DUI stop is possibly the most effective. If your lawyer can show that the police unlawfully pulled you over or arrested you at the roadside, then you have a good chance of avoiding a conviction for DUI.
If you or a loved one has been charged with drunk driving, call a Fresno DUI attorney for help. At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense lawyer, we have years of experience helping clients in your situation, and we’re prepared to help with your case. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at (559) 443-7442.
What You Need to Know to Challenge a DUI Stop
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution is meant to prevent unreasonable searches and seizures. When this provision was written, the framers of the Constitution were not thinking about the police pulling over suspected drunk drivers. Nonetheless, the Fourth Amendment is one of the most important tools at your lawyer’s disposal in defending against a DUI charge.
In the decades since the widespread use of automobiles began, the United States Supreme Court has had to define exactly how the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures might apply to vehicles, as opposed to someone’s home or place of business. In doing so, they’ve had to balance an individual’s expectation of privacy with the state’s interest in public safety. The consensus is that your privacy expectation narrows when you’re driving a car, and the state’s interest in public safety increases.
Although your Fourth Amendment rights are weaker when you are in your vehicle than when you are in your home, they still afford you a certain amount of protection. Specifically, the exclusionary rule may apply to any case where the police collect evidence during a traffic stop. The exclusionary rule states that a prosecutor cannot use evidence obtained from a search or seizure that violated the Fourth Amendment rights of any person.
When Can My Lawyer Challenge My DUI Stop?
In the context of a challenging a DUI stop, an unreasonable search and seizure may occur under the following circumstances:
You were pulled over for no reason.
The police must have a reason to pull you over. They cannot choose to pull you over based on a hunch, or because you or your vehicle fit the profile of a criminal or drunk driver. Instead, the officer must be able to clearly articulate what observations gave rise to the reasonable suspicion that you were doing something illegal. Generally, a traffic stop is legal if the police pull you over because of erratic driving, or because you violated the rules of the road – whether running a red light or making an illegal turn.
You were arrested without probable cause.
The police must develop probable cause before they arrest you on suspicion of DUI. Probable cause may exist when your appearance, odor, behavior, and the results of a portable breathalyzer test show that you are likely intoxicated. If the officer cannot explain what observations gave rise to the probable cause, a court will probably rule that the arrest was unlawful.
If these situations apply to your case, then your lawyer will file a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the traffic stop. Such a motion will draw from the available evidence to show that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights during the DUI stop, and argue on this basis that the prosecutor should withdraw from their case any evidence obtained from this stop.
The evidence obtained from the traffic stop could include:
- Observations from the officer, and contents of the police report
- Items found on your person or in your vehicle
- Statements you made to the police officer
- Results of roadside blood alcohol tests
If your lawyer’s motion to suppress is successful, the prosecutor will be barred from using most of the evidence at their disposal. In this case, it is common for the prosecutor to drop the charges. There is simply no way for them to win the case if they can’t use the evidence they have against you.
Do You Have Questions About Challenging a DUI Stop? Contact Us Today for Help
At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we have a proven track record achieving positive case outcomes in DUI cases by using motions to suppress. The successful use of this strategy requires prompt and decisive action, which means that the earlier you enlist help, the better your chances of avoiding a conviction. If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, call us at (559) 443-7442, or reach out online today for a free and confidential case consultation.