The Fourth Amendment And Suppression
The Number One Way To Win Your DUI Case !!
If you feel you were stopped for a bogus reason, especially late at night, you may have been stopped illegally and, as a result, ALL the evidence collected by the officer – no matter how damning – must be thrown out; however, this doesn’t happen unless you bring the violation to the court’s attention in a formal Motion To Suppress, even if the violation is obvious to the court.
Many people forget that this country was founded by some very pissed off people. If the British hadn’t insisted on bothering Americans with their “general warrants” that gave them permission to enter the premises of any family’s home at any time they desired, there’s a good chance the USA wouldn’t have come into being. The Americans response to the general warrant was the Fourth Amendment that gave all citizens the right to be “secure in their persons, places, and effects,” and though the fourth amendment has been winnowed down through a series of exceptions, your car is still one of those places. Police however pay little attention to the fourth, for good reason: surprisingly it is not a self-enforcing right, such as the freedom to speech. Instead, citizens must ask a court to examine the case and apply the fourth amendment protections by suppressing the evidence as the result of an illegal stop. Amazingly, this is the one area of American law that leaves some law professors speechless because even if the court knows that their was an obvious violation of the fourth amendment and the evidence should be suppressed, the court will NOT move to act UNLESS the defendant requests through written motion that the court apply the fourth amendment rights!
If There Wasn’t A Legal Reason For Stopping You, All The Evidence May Not Be Used Against You.
The biggest mistake people make is to assume they were stopped for a valid reason at night. Although police are generally good people who join the force to protect citizen’s safety, the fact is, as they say, that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In their zeal to protect the population from drunk drivers, too many police officers see every non-crime of drinking and driving, as a DUI. Especially in Utah, driving while having had a legal amount to drink, carries a stigma, and a mostly Mormon police squad, perhaps understandably – sees every drinker as a DUI. Withpoorly designed field tests that are designed to fail, and an inaccurate intoxilyzer – once drivers are stopped, a DUI is all but guaranteed. Many people accused of drunk driving start to believe that they are guilty because of an Intoxilyzer result greater than .05. Their belief that the police officers involved are trustworthy causes them to simply accept their punishment; even when they may be innocent, or stopped illegally. As a result, police officers in the evening hours tend to ignore the Fourth Amendment, and pull over drivers for the smallest or non-existent traffic infraction – one that would normally be ignored during daytime hours, and if the reason cannot be articulated both at the drivers license hearing and in court, all of the evidence MUST be suppressed and may not be used against you. The Fourth Amendment guarantees you protection against unwarranted police intrusion into your car and life, but unlike many other amendments – you must ask a court to enforce it or the evidence will be allowed in – even if it is obvious that it was illegally obtained. That’s right – the government has absolutely NO problem using illegally obtained evidence against you, and they will – unless you challenge them. Police officers and prosecutors are there to convict you – that is their job. Fourth amendment violations happen all the time in drunk driving cases.
Have Your 4th Amendment Rights Have Been Violated ?
Things You Must Know
If you feel that your 4th amendment rights have been violated, here are a few things to consider:
- Police must have a legal reason to pull you over: Illegal reasons, to name just a few, include: being in a “high crime” place; driving slowly; “lane violations”; curfew checks; out-of-state plates, and many more.
- Police can only investigate the issue they pulled you over for: If you were pulled over for speeding and immediately forced to do field sobriety tests because of just the smell of alcohol, that may be illegal.
- Police need probable cause to make a DUI arrest: If you were arrested at a sobriety checkpoint or roadblock for no reason at all, you may have been illegally detained.
Fourth Amendment Violations Occur Everyday
Unfortunately, case law indicates that police trample fourth amendment rights every day. For many, their feeling is that if they find something illegal – and they only lose one case out of one hundred, that is a risk worth taking. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be the first person to be arrested without probable cause, or the victim of an illegal search and seizure, and you won’t be the last. This analysis can only be done by an attorney well versed in fourth amendment law, and is another big reason to have your case screened for free by a Utah DUI attorney.
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