It’s important to know your rights so that you know if the police are conducting an unlawful stop or search of your property. At the moment, you may not be able to prevent it from happening. After the fact, though, this information will be crucial for your case.
What Makes Something an Illegal Stop?
The very beginning of your interaction is important. In order to stop a driver, the police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime, like OWI, is being committed. This may be if they see a driver run a red light, swerve between lanes, or other dangerous driving behaviors. However, if the driver doesn’t display any unusual behavior, there isn’t a valid reason for the stop.
In order to move forward with an OWI arrest, the officer needs probable cause. Probable cause is more specific than reasonable suspicion. For probable cause, the officer will need evidence that you are intoxicated behind the wheel. This could be a high BAC score, failed field sobriety test, or if you’re showing multiple physical signs of intoxication.
In short, if the officer did not have reasonable suspicion, the stop may be considered illegal. If the officer did not have probable cause but still arrested you, you are able to challenge the legality of the arrest.
During an illegal stop, the police may also conduct an illegal search.
Here’s an important note: once you consent to your vehicle being searched, it is considered legal.
However, if you do not consent and they conduct a search anyway, there is a high chance it will be considered illegal. Any evidence they seize from the search cannot be used against you. In OWI cases, this could include breathalyzer test results.
Proving an Unlawful Police Stop
An experienced defense attorney can help prove to the court that the police stop resulting in your OWI arrest was illegal, and file a motion to suppress any evidence collected during the stop. If this is successful, the prosecution may decide to dismiss the case as a whole.
At Levine & Levine Attorneys at Law, we are passionate about protecting our clients. If you were the victim of an illegal police stop, we want to help prove it, and prevent any consequences stemming from the incident.