What Police can and can Not do During a DUI Stop

Posted by James Ferguson | Apr 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

When law a enforcement officer stops a suspected DUI offender, the officer does not have free reign during the interaction. As many are aware, there are actions the officer can and can not take to affect the goals of the traffic stop. To be deemed a lawful stop, the officer must follow constitutional laws regarding lawful search and seizure from the moment the suspected offender comes to the officer's attention. Unlawful search and seizure can lead to charges being thrown out of court as defective. It can also lead to possible civil rights actions as well as other criminal and civil claims.

Permitted Actions
In the universe of lawful DUI stops, officers can have reasonable suspicion as their sole reason to make a seizure of a vehicle. Reasonable suspicion fulfills the requirement for a lawful stop. In other words, a police officer can have a reasonable belief (or even a hunch) that something is array in order to make the stop. For example, an unsteady driver can trigger an officer's reasonable suspicion for the purposes of a stop. If a car's taillight is not functioning, the officer has grounds to stop a car for public safety purposes. During this stop, probable cause can arise for the officer to conclude that the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. It requires the officer have a reasonable basis to believe that a crime has been committed. In this case, probable cause can be a dazed look on the face of the driver and an empty beer bottle on the backseat. Here, the officer is permitted to ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and investigate further. The officer can ask the driver to consent to a field sobriety test, a Breathalyzer test, or even a chemical test.

Prohibited Actions
Law enforcement officers are prohibited from performing certain actions during a suspected DUI stop. The first big area covers the tests. A DUI suspect can refuse a field sobriety test. Furthermore, a DUI suspect can refuse a Breathalyzer and a chemical test. Officers are prohibited from physically forcing a suspected offender to submit to these tests. An officer must ask for consent from the suspected offender. Officers should inform the person of their right to refuse the test. At the same time, in many states, the refusal to take a test can lead to the presumption of the blood alcohol level being over the legal limit. It can also lead to mandatory jail time or the suspension of a driver's license. Officers are also prohibited from fishing out crime where there is no reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

Legal Recourse for Prohibitive Actions
DUI defendants who are subject to any prohibited actions by an officer can make a constitutional challenge during their court proceeding. If the interaction included any physical force for the purposes of obtaining a chemical test, the law enforcement officer may be the subject of criminal or civil claims.

Your DUI Attorney
Attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney with years of experience defending DUI cases. Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime. If you have been charged with DUI, you need an experienced attorney. Attorney Ferguson is well-versed is DUI defense strategies tailored to your unique case. Attorney Ferguson understands the importance of putting the charge behind you. Call us now for a consultation.

See related blog posts:
Three Common DUI Defenses
What to Do if Stopped by Police

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.


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