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Do I have Fourth Amendment Rights In a Los Angeles DUI Arrest?

As with any arrest for any crime, the Fourth Amendment, as well as any other constitutional right is applicable to a DUI arrest. If an officer were to stop someone driving because the officer was suspicious the driver was driving under the influence, then they would only be able to obtain evidence within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment. There has to be reasonable cause to stop the vehicle in the first place, and then, there must be reasonable cause and suspicion to proceed with DUI procedures. Here is an example below to paint what is being said better.


Michael is driving back to his apartment one night from a particularly bad date. He decided to have a few shots at his local bar afterwards because it was a blind date with a particularly disagreeable woman with a hygiene problem. It is getting close to closing time, bartender announced last call and Michael threw one more back. He figures he will be fine to drive home since he has a high tolerance, which he does so happen to have a decent tolerance to alcohol. Officers always circle bars around closing time, and they see Michael walk to his Prius. He appears to walk fine, found his keys quickly and unlocked his car. Michael pulls out of the lot, and the officers decide to follow him on a hunch. So far, Michael is following all of the rules of the road. The police figure since he was in a bar, then he must have been drinking something, so they keep following Michael. Eventually, they get fed up and figure he wasted enough of their time, so they will waste his. After making the stop, which Michael lawfully obeyed, he asked the officers why they stopped him when he rolled down his window. The officers inform Michael they thought he was drinking and driving.

Was the Stop Legal in the Example?

There is no sufficient grounds to pull Michael over. If they wanted to pull him over lawfully to collect the evidence for a DUI, they have to have reasonable cause to do so. Additionally, this applies to any traffic violation, welfare stops or sobriety check points. None of the reasons existed in the example. Officers could not have pulled Michael or anyone else over for simply coming out of a bar or because they have a hunch someone has been drinking. Michael’s fourth amendment right was clearly violated by the officers. Even though drinking and driving is wrong, morally bankrupt and dangerous, the evidence gathered, including the stop itself, is textbook illegal search and seizure.

Another Example

Bonquita was driving back to her grandparents one night after visiting her boyfriend. She and her boyfriend each had a beer and some pizza several hours earlier while they watched a movie. Bonquita is running late to give her grandma her medication and leaves. While she is driving, she sees a “long” green light finally turn yellow, and she speeds up through a yellow light. The light turned red before she was clear of the intersection. Bonquita had just violated traffic laws, and officers nearby catching people speeding on the fairly empty streets saw her, and they decided to pull her over. They explain to her how she technically ran a red light even though she disputes it was still yellow. They do not care for her getting lippy, especially since she is wrong, so they ask if she had anything to drink that night. Bonquita denied consuming any alcohol prior to driving home. She does not smell like she has been drinking, and she only appears upset but not drunk. This is because she has no alcohol coursing through her blood at the moment. They tell her to get out of the car. Once she is out, they give her a breathalyzer. She has choice words for the officers, including some racially charged rhetoric, but the result of her breathalyzer is 0.00. She had been pretty offensive, so the officers decide to arrest her for a DUI, and they tell her it is because her blood alcohol level is too high.

Was the Evidence Obtained Legal?

Although there was cause to make the stop, there was no cause to arrest her for a DUI. There were no signs she was drinking, and the evidence obtained by violating her Fourth Amendment right was obtained unlawfully and in violation of her rights.

Any evidence obtained while a person’s Fourth Amendment rights are being violated should be suppressed. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer will know exactly what to do, and the lawyer will file the appropriate motions to get the evidence suppressed. The Fourth Amendment is an important right. Learn all about it, and do what is necessary to protect it and stand up for it.

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