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What are my Fourth Amendment Rights in a Southern California DUI Stop?

The Constitution grants you many rights, that cannot be taken away without due process. One of the most important and relevant rights is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful search and seizure.

This right applies heavily to DUI situations. Officers are not allowed to search your vehicle, or home, unless they have a proper warrant. In certain situations, they are unable to obtain a warrant due to exigent circumstances and have the right to search immediately. However, in order to search without a proper warrant the officers must have probably cause and must be able to support their reasonable cause.

If there is no reasonable cause, then the officers have obtained evidence illegally, and that evidence must be thrown out, or suppressed.

Let’s consider an example. Danny is driving home from a party. He has had two beers and is under the influence of marijuana. He has a valid medical marijuana prescription, (although it is important to note that even with a valid prescription, you are not legally permitted to operate a vehicle). He also sells marijuana as a side business and has about 12 ounces in his trunk. As he is driving home, he runs a red light and is immediately asked to stop by a nearby officer. The officer comes up to Danny’s window and asks him to open the trunk. Wanting to comply, Danny immediately opens the trunk and the officer confiscates the marijuana as evidence. He then arrests Danny for driving under the influence, and for possession of a controlled substance.

Danny should invoke his 4th amendment rights and ask that the marijuana taken from the trunk of his car be suppressed. At the time the officer came up to Danny’s car window, he had no reason to suspect that Danny had marijuana in the trunk of his car. At that point, there were no suspicions that there was any kind of illegal substance. If Danny had told the officer he had marijuana in the trunk of his car, and then the officer opened the trunk, then there would probable cause.

If the marijuana as evidence is successfully suppressed, then Danny has a strong probability of having the possession charges dismissed.sIf the evidence is suppressed, that means that the Court cannot consider the marijuana as evidence for any purpose. The Judge must move forward as if there was no marijuana found, as will the prosecutor. Without any evidence of an actual controlled substance found in Danny’s vehicle,sthe prosecutor’s case is weak. They will likely not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Danny had any marijuana, and therefore it is probable the charges of marijuana possession in a vehicle will be dropped.

If you feel that your Constitutional rights have been violated, speak to a professional Southern California Criminal Attorney right away. The Courts take Constitutional rights very seriously, and if yours have been violated, it could mean a possible dismissal of your case.