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Constitutional Issues in Ocean City DUI Cases

If you have ever been accused of driving under the influence, there are a variety of ways in which your rights could have potentially been violated. Below, an Ocean City DUI lawyer discusses some specific cases where Constitutional issues come into play during DUI cases and the corresponding amendment that was violated.

For more on your rights at a DUI stop or to begin building a defense, call and schedule a consultation today.

Potential Constitutional Issues That Arise in DUI Cases

The Constitutional rights that we all possess are triggered whenever a person comes into contact with the state by way of law enforcement officers. Additionally, there are a number of different issues which may come into play in any given case and can be used to build a defense. Below are some examples of the ways that someone’s rights may be violated:

Not Having a Legitimate Reason to Stop the Car (4th Amendment)

A police officer must have a legitimate legal basis for pulling a car over, and any car that is pulled over without any reasonable suspicion is a violation of Constitutional rights. All citizens have a right not to be subject to unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment which means a police officer has to be able to articulate the legal basis of why they first stopped the car and made contact with the driver.

Even if the driver is found to be in possession of something illegal, if the stop was not legal then the case can get thrown out.

Not Having Probable Cause To Make An Arrest (4th Amendment)

There also must be probable cause for the police officer to make an arrest and charge somebody with a DUI. The basis for the stop and whether or not there was probable cause are two very important legal issues that an attorney could raise and argue on behalf of the defendant.

As with not having a legitimate reason to stop the car, if an officer arrests someone without probable cause the case can be tossed out in court.

Not Being Read Your Miranda Rights (In Some Cases) (5th Amendment)

Also, if the defendant is arrested and taken into custody, and then if a police officer wants to ask the driver any questions, the police officer has to Mirandize the defendant prior to the questioning. Miranda rights are a very important Constitutional right for a defendant because the statements a defendant makes can be used against them in court. It is very important that the defendant be advised that they have Miranda rights. That is a very important Constitutional safeguard that applies in DUI cases, however, only once a driver is in custody and being questioned.

The Fifth amendment discusses your right not to incriminate yourself, and gives you the right to remain silent and not make any statements at all, that could potentially be used against them at trial.

Not Being Given The Right To Speak With An Attorney (6th Amendment)

Another important Constitutional right is the right to speak with an attorney, and it can not be emphasized enough how important that is for drivers to do. They should be advised of their right to speak with an attorney and should absolutely do so. A driver should also be advised of their rights prior to being asked to take a breath test. A driver should definitely ask to have a consultation with an attorney, if possible, prior to deciding whether or not to take a breath test.

How Can These Issues Impact a Case?

Constitutional issues can impact a case in several different ways. Generally, if the Constitutional rights of the defendant are violated, then the remedy might be that evidence gathered against the defendant cannot be used against the defendant at trial. Probably the clearest example of that would be any statements made by the defendant. If the defendant was in custody and the officer wanted to ask the defendant questions, the officer has to Mirandize the defendant and explain that they have the right to remain silent and that any statements that they make could be used against them.

If the defendant is not Mirandized and makes incriminatory statements, then the attorney can argue it was a violation of his rights to not advise him of his Miranda warnings and can argue that the statements the defendant made should be suppressed and cannot be used by the State in its case against the defendant. In this case, even if the defendant confesses to having consumed a fifth of liquor before driving the car, that statement could be suppressed and the judge would never hear that the defendant made that statement.

That is just one way that constitutional issues can have an impact on a trial, so it is obviously a very important aspect of every case and something that is important to keep in mind as you build a defense.