It is not uncommon in DUI cases for police officers to begin investigating a case with a potential DUI violation in mind and end up charging a driver not only with DUI but with drug-related charges as well. There are a variety of ways this sort of scenario can play out.
One recent out-of-state case involved an 18-year-old driver who was pulled over for driving without headlights. Officers apparently noticed that the young man had a slow response time, droopy eyes, and dilated pupils, and he ended up failing field sobriety testing. After having found synthetic marijuana on floor of the young man’s car, officers searched the trunk of the vehicle where they found a package containing over 43 grams of marijuana. It so happens that the package was from Denver, Colorado, but that is another issue. What we’re interested in is the search itself.
It goes without saying that police officers do have the right to search the vehicle of drivers under certain circumstances. That being said, there are specific rules governing when it is and is not appropriate for officers to do so. These rules are in place to protect the constitutional rights of criminal suspects, and when a police officer fails to abide by a suspect’s rights, legal action needs to be taken.
In the context of criminal defense, one way to take legal action is by seeking to have illegally obtained evidence excluded from trial. In a future post, we’ll speak more about this issue and how we can help criminal defendants protect their rights at trial.