A lot of events take place during the holidays. Often, there’s alcohol involved with holiday socializing.
With the holidays approaching, there’s an increased chance that you could get pulled over or have to pass through a DUI checkpoint. As a result, you could end up facing DUI charges. For this reason, it’s important to know your rights.
For example, you can refuse to provide information that can incriminate you. You’ll often hear it referred to as “the right to remain silent.”
You’re also protected from illegal search and seizure by the Fourth Amendment. The amendment gives you the right to refuse a search of your personal property. For this reason, police officers must have a search warrant to search you or your belongings if you don’t consent to a search.
To learn more about your rights, read on.
Understanding Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint
At a DUI checkpoint, A police officer can conduct a search without a warrant if you give them consent. If you don’t have anything to hide, consent is often your best course of action.
You can allow the officer to perform the search, then continue about your day. However, there is an important exception to the consent rule. The exception is called the Plain View Doctrine. The doctrine is a part of the Fourth Amendment.
It allows law enforcement officers to perform a search if they see something illegal or incriminating in plain sight. If this happens, an officer is legally allowed to search you or your vehicle.
For example, imagine that you go through a sobriety checkpoint after a holiday event, and there’s a half-empty bottle of wine sitting next to some leftovers in your back seat. In this case, they have a right to search your vehicle and your person to find more evidence.
Police officers also have a legal right to conduct a search according to the rules regarding arrests. During an arrest, police officers do not require a warrant to perform a search and seizure.
There are two reasons for this rule. Firstly, it allows law enforcement officers to find and locate evidence that may relate to the arrest. Secondly, it protects the officer in case a suspect has dangerous weapons. While you can refuse an uninvited search, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it.
The Right Way to Refuse a Checkpoint Search
You should always remain calm and courteous when dealing with police officers. Sometimes this can prove difficult. Nevertheless, maintaining your composure and remaining polite is one of the most important things you can do.
In some cases, a law officer may ask you to step out of your vehicle. They may then begin a search of your person. In this instance, you can refuse a search.
You’d begin by speaking calmly. You could say something such as, “I do not consent to a search Officer.” It’s important never to resist a police officer. Nor should you touch an officer under any circumstances. If you do, you may very well place your life in danger.
All police officers are aware of the consent rule. Nevertheless, they may try to get your consent without you knowing.
For instance, they might ask a seemingly innocent question such as, “Can I take a look around your vehicle?” Alternatively, they might make a more assertive statement such as, “I’m going to look through your vehicle.” Despite making this kind of authoritative statement, they cannot legally perform a search until you provide consent.
If you find yourself in this scenario, it’s important to watch your wording. No matter how an officer “asks,” calmly and politely explain to the officer that you are not comfortable with them searching your vehicle.
After You Refuse a Search
Once you refuse a search, you are free to go unless you are under arrest or the officer has a reason to detain you. The law says that officers must have probable cause to believe that a crime may have been committed to arrest or detain your person.
For this reason, you should politely ask an officer if you’re being arrested or detained. If not, you are free to go—legally.
If you refuse a search, an officer can escalate the matter if they choose. For instance, they may tell you that they’ll acquire a search warrant and have your car searched by drug-sniffing dogs. Still, the officer cannot hold you if you’re not detained or under arrest.
Nevertheless, you should never flee from law enforcement, even if you have a right to do so. By fleeing, you place yourself and your freedom at risk. An officer can charge you with resisting arrest and other charges if you choose to flee a scene.
Instead, calmly continue to ask if you’re under arrest. If not, you are free to leave, eventually. At some point, the officer will have to let you go if they have no legal reason to hold you.
What to Do if You Receive DUI Charges?
If you drink and drive during the holidays, you could find trouble at a DUI checkpoint. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to contact a Sacramento lawyer as soon as possible.
A DUI can have serious consequences. For example, you could spend time in jail. You may also pay a stiff fine. You can also lose your driver’s license. You may also have to take classes before you can have your license reinstated.
However, there are many ways to discount the evidence presented by the arresting officer. A skilled attorney may help you to have your charges dropped or reduced.
Trust Us to Fight for Your Rights
Prentiss Law has the experience that you need to help you navigate a DUI charge. We’re passionate about fighting for the rights of citizens in our community! If you've been arrested for DUI in the Sacramento area call Prentiss Law and take advantage of our nearly 15 years of experience.
Timothy M Prentiss II is an experienced attorney who started his career as a Deputy Public Defender and has also worked as a criminal prosecutor. His understanding of both sides of criminal justice can work to your advantage. Today, Prentiss Law focuses on DUI charges and criminal defense.
At Prentiss Law, no two cases are alike. Each client deserves an individualized approach to criminal defense, which is what you’ll receive when we represent you.
If you need DUI defense counsel, you can call us right away at (530) 288-4073 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.