What are the Search & Seizure Laws regarding an Atlanta DUI? DUI Search Laws in Atlanta usually arrise when you have been stopped in a Atlanta Roadblock or Georgia Checkpoint. What happens next can be the crux of your Atlanta DUI Defense. What you need to know! As a Former Prosecutor, we know exactly how this system works and we have extensive knowledge on Atlanta Search & Seizure DUI Laws.
The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
In Atlanta Georgia, your rights protected in this amendment are dependent on the issue of probable cause. Police officers use probable cause as reasonable justification for searching a person, home, or vehicle. The officer has a duty to perform a search and/or seizure if he or she believes a crime has been committed or is in the process of being committed.
A police officer is not allowed to search a person or property unless he or she has obtained a search warrant or arrest warrant or believes that a crime is being committed or will be committed.
How does this pertain to a driving under the influence case? If a police officer pulls over a driver for a traffic violation (such as running a stop sign or weaving) and smells alcohol on the driver’s breath or sees alcohol bottles laying on the passenger side floor, this gives the officer probable cause to believe that a crime may be in progress.
After the officer establishes that a violation is being committed, he or she has probable cause to search the vehicle without a search warrant being necessary.
If the officer did not have probable cause or did not obtain permission before searching the driver’s vehicle, an illegal search and seizure has occurred. The use of any evidence obtained during the illegal search will be inadmissible in court.
If you are the victim of an illegal search and seizure, it is important that you hire an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your attorney will make sure that your rights are upheld when you go to court. Don’t allow evidence gathered illegally to be used against you.
Exceptions to the 4th Amendment:
There is an exception to the premise that officers need reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle, however. That is in the case of the DUI roadblock or DUI checkpoint.
A police department may set up a DUI Checkpoint or DUI Roadblock under certain circumstances. The United States Supreme Court allows DUI checkpoints, carving out an exception to the Fourth Amendment in the cases of Michigan vs. Sitz and Ingersoll vs. Palmer.
The Georgia Court of Appeals has held in Baker v. State, 252 Ga. App. 695 (2001), that compliance with all prongs previously set forth in State v. Golden, 171 Ga. App. 27 (1984) and LaFontaine v. State, 269 Ga. 251 (1998) must be established in order for the checkpoint to pass constitutional scrutiny. It must be shown:
•That the decision to implement the roadside checkpoint as well as the procedures for carrying it out were made by supervisory personnel, rather than officers in the field; and
•That the roadside checkpoint served a legitimate purpose; and
•That all passing vehicles were stopped as opposed to random stops; and
•That the delay to motorists was minimal; and
•That the roadblock was well identified as a police checkpoint; and
•The screening officers’ training and experience was sufficient to qualify the officers to make a determination of which drivers should be investigated for impairment.
•The decision to implement the roadblock must be made at the programmatic level for a legitimate purpose. The decision must be made by a police officer not in the field. See Brown v. State S12G1287. (2013)
•The roadblock must be established for a lawful primary purpose other than ordinary crime prevention and control. See Williams V. State S13G0178 (2013)
The above listed factors only seem to make the issue of whether a particular checkpoint is valid more complicated. While there is no bright line rule, an attorney who is experienced in DUI law can easily analyze any particular case in order to determine whether the checkpoint at which you were stopped was valid or a violation of your rights. The above analysis must also be viewed in the light of local custom, as well.
In some jurisdictions, leniency is given to police officers at DUI checkpoints, while in others, it is not. Certain judges also view checkpoints as necessary in DUI detection and so give law enforcement considerable leeway in setting them up and conducting them how they see fit.
There are many different ways to suppress evidence from the stop itself. Good DUI Lawyers understand this process and can file motions on your behalf. These motions go after the initial police stop in of itself.