You can't google your way become a superstar in the law. Well maybe you can, but it'll take you quite some time. Still, you've probably come to our firm from Google and are looking for information about DUIs in DC. Welcome, and look around. Today we're talking about car searches.
Can They Search My Car During a DUI?
When DC police pull you over for suspicion of DUI, they'll often want to rummage around your car to see what else they can find to incriminate you. The law allows police to look for things in plain view, but an actual search of your car requires police to have more than just a hunch. Without your consent or a warrant, an experienced attorney could have a field day arguing to suppress the evidence found in one of these kinds of searches.
So let's say the police pull you over on suspicion of DUI, but: (1) there's nothing illegal in plain view in your car; (2) you aren't giving your consent to a search; (3) the police have no warrant, and (4) they still force their way into your car and conduct a search. Now what?
Sitback and smile. You've got good chances to suppress any evidence they find in the search.
For DC police to conduct a car search, they must have articulable suspicion. We could write a 500 page book about what that means, but ain't nobody got time for that on this blog. Suffice it to say, cops can't just search your car willy nilly.
Evidence Can Be Suppressed Even if You Pee on a Tree.
This is exactly what happened in a case called US v. Taylor. In that case, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) arrested Mr. Taylor on suspicion of DUI. They searched Mr. Taylor's car after he could not find his insurance. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all of this, Mr. Taylor went took a quick pause to pee on a nearby tree. To use a fancy legal phrase, this was "not a good look." When MPD searched Mr. Taylor's car, the MPD found a loaded handgun and charged him with that.
And then that evidence got suppressed. Why? Because arrest for DUI doesn't mean you can just search somebody's car like that.
If you're facing a DUI in Washington, DC, you'll probably want to talk to a lawyer who knows a thing or two about the law. Every case is different, so call us today and let us go through each fact of your case so we can prepare your defenses. There's much more to the law on car searches during DUI than what we've written here, and we'd be happy to talk to you about it. We'd even be happy to talk to you about peeing on trees if that's what your case is about.
202-489-0720 is our DC office line. Our consultations are free and confidential.