A DUI stop is intimidating, and it can be difficult to know what your rights are. As a driver, is important to understand that the police are subject to certain legal limitations on the way that they collect evidence, and violations of these limits can have a significant impact on the way that your case is resolved. In fact, in some cases, a violation of your constitutional rights can result in the entire DUI case against you being dropped entirely.
If you believe that your rights were violated during a DUI traffic stop, it is important to consult with an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible. The aggressive lawyers at the Hedding Law Firm will ensure that your rights are vindicated and you have access to all possible remedies.
What Remedies Are Available for DUI Stop Violations?
There are many remedies that may be available to you, depending on the facts of your case. Some of the most common are:
- Suppression of evidence under the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits police officers from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. What this means in practice is that the police need to have probable cause or a warrant in order to search your or your vehicle – and a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine is considered to be a “search.” In addition, in order to even make a traffic stop, they must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. If you can establish that the police lacked sufficient legal justification for a search, it can result in any evidence they gathered being suppressed (meaning the prosecution cannot introduce the statement into evidence). Without the ability to use evidence gathered in a traffic stop, prosecutors are often required to drop their case.
- Suppression of evidence under the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment protects your right against self incrimination. It is the reason Miranda Warnings must be given after a person is taken into custody. If you involuntarily make an incriminating statement to a law enforcement officer, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to have the judge suppress it from trial.
- Suppression of evidence under the Sixth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment protects your right to counsel. This, too, is part of the Miranda Warnings, and violations of this right can also lead to the suppression of evidence at trial. If you request an attorney and law enforcement continues to question you, your lawyer may be able to suppress any statements made after your request for counsel.
- Civil Rights actions under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Suppression of evidence can be a powerful tool at a criminal trial. But what if you were wrongfully stopped, no charges were filed against you, and there never is a criminal trial? Congress has established another remedy for violations of civil rights. Section 1983 allows you to bring a civil suit against any person (including law enforcement officers) who deprives you of any of the rights, privileges or immunities of U.S. law. For example: if, during a DUI stop, a police officer elicits incriminating statements from you about how much you drank, these would not be admissible at trial. But suppose your breath test came back just under .08 and there never was a criminal trial. You would be able to file a civil law suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the law enforcement agency to recover your losses caused as a result of the violation. This could include attorney's fees, pain and suffering, etc. 1983 law suits are not common because they are costly to pursue. In addition, law enforcement officers are often given discretion to execute their duties in good faith. Nonetheless, a §1983 action can be an effective option when police conduct was particularly egregious.
Always Have a DUI Lawyer Review Your Case
As a DUI defendant, it is important to understand that issues related to constitutional rights and the suppression of evidence are extremely complicated. As a result, it is difficult to determine whether your rights were violated or to suppress evidence without significant legal training and experience.
For this reason, it is important to have an attorney review your case as soon as possible after an arrest. Failure to do so may result in an unnecessary conviction for drunk driving on your record.
If you have been stopped by any law enforcement officer on suspicion of DUI, contact the Hedding Law Firm today. We will ensure that your civil rights are vindicated and your criminal case is resolved fairly. Call (213) 542-0963 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today. Our professional, friendly staff offers the personalized service you deserve.