You are driving down the road, when suddenly red and blue lights are flashing behind you. You pull over and the officer gets out of their vehicle and asks you to submit to several tests to determine whether you are driving under the influence. Shortly thereafter, you find yourself in handcuffs, under arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.
What are your next steps? Generally, it is in your best interest to consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will carefully analyze all aspects of your case, starting from the initial traffic stop and come up with ways to defend against the charges you face. One of the best defense strategies is proving that your Constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement.
Violation of your Constitutional rights
The United States Constitution grants you certain rights, that no one, not even law enforcement, can take away from you. Your attorney may discover that your Fourth, Fifth, and/or Sixth Amendment rights were violated when you were arrested and charged with a DWI.
- Fourth Amendment: The Fourth Amendment protects you from unlawful searches and seizures. A police officer may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights if they stop and/or search your vehicle for no reason. Under the Fourth Amendment, police officers must have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle and probable cause to arrest you or search your vehicle.
- Fifth Amendment: The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. If you have been arrested and taken into custody, an officer must read you your Miranda rights. The officer must tell you that you have the right to remain silent, anything you say may be used against you in court, you have the right to an attorney and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. An officer may not interrogate you without reading you your rights and may not continue to question you if you request to speak to an attorney.
- Sixth Amendment: The Sixth Amendment protects your right to a speedy trial and assistance of counsel. The state must bring the accused to trial in a timely manner and you must be given the right to cross-examine witnesses, police, and anyone else testifying against you.
If your Constitutional rights have been violated, your attorney can file for the suppression of any evidence against you that was collected because of that violation. Without this evidence, the charges against you may be reduced or dismissed.