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What Is an Unlawful DWI Search And Seizure?


Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, we are protected from an unlawful search and seizure of our person and property. As citizens, we have the legitimate expectation of privacy of our bodies and our private property. The police are not permitted to legally detain you, search your person or search your property without a warrant unless there is probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed or has been committed. Your rights under the Fourth Amendment also extend to your right not to be unlawfully detained or searched during a DWI traffic stop.

Protecting your rights from unlawful DWI search and seizures is part of our job as criminal defense attorneys. If the police illegally conducted a search and seizure during a DWI investigation, we want to help ensure that your rights are protected by not permitting evidence that was obtained illegally to be used against you during your DWI trial. Our attorneys have extensive experience defending unlawful DWI search and seizure cases. Contact The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm, LLP for a free consultation with one of our experienced North Carolina DWI attorneys.

Search and Seizure during a DWI Traffic Stop

You are protected against an unreasonable invasion of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. This right prevents an officer from randomly searching your vehicle for alcohol or drugs during a traffic stop. Of course, if you give the officer permission to search your vehicle, the officer does not need to justify the search with probable cause. You should never voluntarily agree to a search of your vehicle because any evidence obtained during a voluntary search can be used against you at trial. Evidence obtained during an unlawful search cannot be used against you in court.

In a typical DWI case, the rules regarding search and seizure tend to come up in a couple contexts. First, did the police have a valid reason for stopping your car to begin with (called a “reasonable, articulable suspicion”)?  While some cases may stem from an accident or a DWI checkpoint, most DWI cases start when a motorist is pulled over by the police.  It is important to consider whether or not the officer had a good enough reason for doing so.  Maybe the suspect was speeding or committing some other clear-cut violation of the law, or maybe they were simply driving in a way that suggests they were impaired.  In either situation, the prosecution must justify the decision to stop and detain the suspect driver or risk having the DWI case dismissed by the court.

Second, the police must have probable cause to arrest somebody for DWI.  They may gather evidence to establish probable cause through the use of a portable breath test (“alcosensor”) or field sobriety tests.  They may also develop probable cause through a combination of other factors such as the odor of alcohol, poor driving prior to being pulled over, or other aspects of the suspect’s demeanor and appearance (blood-shot eyes, slurred speech, etc.) that suggest impairment.  Once again the government must be able to defend the decision of the police to place somebody under arrest when the case comes to trial.

Determining if Your DWI Search and Seizure was Unlawful

Because each case is different and the area of law covering probable cause and unlawful search and seizure is complex, it is important that you consult an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm, LLP will review the evidence and circumstances surrounding your DWI stop, arrest and search to determine if the officer had probable cause or if the DWI search and seizure was unlawful. This is an important step in the DWI defense process because if the DWI search and seizure was unlawful, any evidence obtained during the search and seizure will be suppressed and cannot be used against you in court.

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville DWI Attorney

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm, LLP is a full-service Jacksonville Criminal and Civil law firm that is committed to providing results-driven legal representation to businesses and individuals seeking an alternative to large-firm representation. We focus on getting you the results you want while offering you a cost-effective solution to your legal needs. We understand that we work for our clients; therefore; our attorneys communicate regularly with each client to ensure that the client knows what is going on with the case.

When you have legal problems, you need an experienced legal professional in your corner. No matter the case, you should have an attorney working for you who knows the law and who has the experience to get results. We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.

Image Credit: Drew Stephens