The police cannot search your car without probable cause, your consent, or a warrant. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that citizens shall not be subjected to unwarranted and unlawful searches and seizures. Unfortunately, officers often violate the law and may have searched your vehicle in violation of the constitution. If you were pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI) and subjected to an illegal search, an experienced Chicago DUI lawyer may be able to have your charges dismissed.
Being pulled over for a DUI can be intimidating and it can be difficult to deny an officer’s request in such a moment. Stay calm and polite – but firmly remind the officers of their duty to have probable cause or a warrant to search your vehicle. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, you may be worried about the consequence you could face upon being convicted. At O’Meara Law, we will work tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected throughout the criminal justice process to give your case the best possible chance of success.
If you believe that you unfairly arrested for a DUI, call 312-909-0706 now.
You Have a Reduced Expectation of Privacy When in Your Vehicle
When it comes to searches and seizures, police normally have more leeway when it comes to vehicles. This is known as the automobile exception, and it allows officers to search your vehicle without a warrant because you have a lesser expectation of privacy in a vehicle, as opposed to a home. When it comes to vehicles, the only requirement is that the officer has probable cause, or reason to suspect, that a crime has been or will be committed.
Many people wonder, when are police allowed to search my car? In general, officers can conduct a vehicle search under the following circumstances:
- The officer has probable cause, or a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed
- The officer has been given consent to search the vehicle
- The officer has obtained a search warrant
- The officer believes that the safety of others may be in danger
- A person has been arrested and the search will help uncover evidence for a conviction
When you are pulled over for a DUI, not knowing your rights can put your freedom in jeopardy. In many cases, officers try to trick drivers into giving consent. They might also lie and claim that you are required to submit to a search. If you give an officer consent and allow them to search your car, they have every right to do so. When you voluntarily agree to a vehicle search, you are basically giving up your Fourth Amendment rights.
The police have significant leeway in claiming probable cause – at least until your lawyer can challenge it in court. A police officer might think that you have bloodshot eyes and use that as an excuse to conduct a vehicle search. They might also claim that they smell alcohol and then search your vehicle for bottles of liquor. When they do not have probable cause but randomly suspect that a crime has occurred, they may make up a reason for probable cause. However, they will have to prove that reason in court. An effective Chicago DUI attorney can challenge their reasoning and help you reach a favorable outcome for your case.
How O’Meara Law Can Protect Your Rights
If you are facing an unfair or unlawful DUI accusation, you should retain the services of a skilled Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Evidence that is obtained in violation of your fourth amendment rights cannot be used to prove your guilt. If your lawyer can show that a search was improperly executed, any evidence obtained as a result may be suppressed from the case. Whatever you do, do not accept a plea agreement before a lawyer has reviewed your case.
The penalties for driving under the influence can be severe. If you have commitments, either to a job or to a family, you may not be able to honor them after a conviction. At O’Meara Law, we know that a criminal conviction and its collateral consequences can turn your life upside down. We will analyze every aspect of your case to determine whether any of the prosecutor’s evidence was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.
To see how you can regain your freedom and move on with your life, call 312-909-0706 today.