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What does the Fourth Amendment have to do with a DUI stop?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2024 | CRIMINAL LAW - Drunk Driving

Maryland police made many arrests during the recent holiday season. A lot of them were connected to traffic stops and motor vehicle accidents. Many of these incidents led to DUI arrests. In such cases, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is particularly relevant.

The Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures. If a Maryland police officer pulls someone over in a traffic stop, the driver, the vehicle, and anyone else in the car at the time, are under seizure. An officer must have a legitimate reason for the detention. If the officer suspects DUI, various issues may arise during the traffic stop that pertain to the Fourth Amendment.

Police must be able to articulate reasonable cause for a DUI stop

Traffic stops can only occur in Maryland if the patrol officer making the stop has a justifiable reason for doing so. For example, if a police officer suspects an individual of drunk driving, there must be a legitimate reason for the suspicion. If an officer witnessed the vehicle veering over the yellow line, for instance, this constitutes reasonable cause to pull the driver over. A vehicle swerving in its lane may not be grounds to arrest someone, however. This is why police must establish probable cause during a DUI stop.

No warrant necessary following an arrest when vehicle is impounded

If Maryland police have taken a motorist into custody for suspected DUI and have properly impounded the vehicle, they may conduct an inventory search of the vehicle without a warrant. They may also search the person without a warrant. If an individual believes that violation of the Fourth Amendment occurred leading up to, during or following a DUI arrest, he or she may bring the issue before a judge. In such circumstances, drunk driving charges might be dismissed, or evidence acquired during an unlawful search deemed inadmissible in court.