In our last post, we began speaking about the issue of police searches of vehicles during DUI investigations. As we mentioned, search and seizure issues can come up in DUI cases when an investigating officer doesn’t abide by established rules intended to protect motorists’ constitutional rights.

When a police officer conducts a DUI investigation improperly and violates a suspect’s constitutional rights, the issue may not need to be addressed if there are no criminal charges. If criminal charges do follow, though, it is important for the defendant to consider what remedies are available in the context of the criminal process with respect to the improper search. A particularly important remedy is the exclusionary rule.

The exclusionary rule holds that the government is not permitted to use illegally obtained evidence in a criminal prosecution. The rule applies not only to illegally obtained evidence, but also to evidence which would not have been found without an illegal search.

There are several exceptions to the exclusionary rule, and it is important to be able to make a strong case for their lack of applicability, depending on the case. Exceptions may be made, for example, in cases where the investigating officer acted in reasonable reliance on a search warrant that ultimately turned out to be invalid. Other exceptions include evidence that is later obtained through a valid search or seizure, evidence that would have been discovered irrespective of the illegal search or seizure, and evidence that is considered not sufficiently connected to an illegal search.

In our next post, we’ll speak about the potential impact of evidence suppression in a criminal trial.

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