Constitutional Issues in Fredericksburg DUI Cases

There are certain procedures that a police officer must follow in order to arrest someone for a DUI. If they do not properly follow protocol, they could potentially violate an individual’s constitutional rights. When an officer violates a person’s constitutional rights during an arrest, the evidence they obtained is illegal and can be thrown out of court. To learn more about the constitutional issues in Fredericksburg DUI cases, reach out to a seasoned DUI lawyer. An attorney could inform you of your rights and how they apply to your situation.

How the Fourth Amendment Applies to DUI Cases

The most common constitutional issues in Fredericksburg DUI cases is a motion to suppress based on lack of probable cause, which is protected by the Fourth Amendment. Under the Fourth Amendment, a person has the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that the prosecution must meet a certain standard before they can seize anyone without a warrant. Sometimes police officers jump the gun and arrest people without having probable cause for the arrest.

At a traffic stop, an officer must have probable cause to arrest someone for a DUI. This means that if the police arrest an individual, they need to have probable cause that the person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If the officer did not have probable cause, then the arrest is illegal and the evidence that was discovered will be thrown out. Unless a judge or a magistrate swore out a warrant for someone’s arrest or a warrant for a search, any search made is warrantless. Therefore, challenging the probable cause of the arrest is one of the most common types of constitutional arguments that a quality criminal defense lawyer will make.

Legal Searches for DUI Cases

As mentioned above, officers need to have probable cause that a person has committed a specific crime in order for an arrest to be constitutional. If an individual is fleeing from the police and the police has some reason to believe that the individual is about to destroy evidence, there may be exceptions to a search without a warrant.

If the evidence is in clear view or clear smell, the officers are allowed to search the person. For example, if they look into someone’s car and see very clearly that there is an open container of alcohol, then they can search the car because they saw evidence of a criminal act. Sometimes officers can pat someone down if there is an officer safety issue and they have reason to believe that someone has weapons on them. The police may also do a stop-and-frisk under limited circumstances. It depends on the facts of the case, but the Fourth Amendment is an absolute bar to warrantless searches and seizures absent these very specific exceptions.

Fifth and Sixth Amendment Issues

There can be constitutional issues in Fredericksburg DUI cases involving the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The Fifth Amendment concerns an individual’s right to due process of law and the right to remain silent. The Sixth Amendment protects a person’s right to obtain legal counsel.

Many people mistakenly believe that at the first moment of the interactions with the officers they have the right to have an attorney there with them, but this is not exactly correct. However, the individual has the right to refuse to speak to the officers or to answer questions. Fredericksburg courts follow the constitutional interpretations of the state of Virginia, Supreme Court, and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals when prosecuting DUI charges. If you have any questions regarding the constitutional issues in Fredericksburg DUI cases, contact an experienced DUI lawyer.

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