California Police May Enter the Homes of DUI Suspects Without a Warrant

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California Police May Enter the Homes of DUI Suspects Without a Warrant

Police seeking suspected DUI / DWI drivers can enter private homes without warrants, the California Supreme Court has ruled in a 6-1 decision that erodes Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

The lone dissenter, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, said the ruling essentially gives police a “free pass” to sidestep constitutional protections and enter private homes without warrants.

The Fourth Amendment bars authorities from entering homes without warrants unless “exigent circumstances” exist, such as the pursuit of a fleeing felon, imminent danger to police or others, or the possibility that evidence will be destroyed if police wait for a warrant.

The court ruled in People v. Thompson that warrantless entries are justified in drunk driving cases because motorists can hide inside their homes until they no longer exceed the legal limit for driving. The court also cited the possibility that motorists can falsely claim that they continued to drink inside the home, which can skew the results of chemical tests to determine blood alcohol content and provide a defense to a DUI / DWI charge.

Justice Marvin Baxter wrote that the decision does not give police unlimited power to enter homes in pursuit of criminal suspects without warrants – they may only do so if exigent circumstances exist.

However, police will interpret the ruling as broadly as possible and use it to justify searches that were once prohibited. There is always a possibility that a criminal suspect may destroy evidence, Mickle Werdegar wrote in dissent.

The panel’s ruling is among several recent high court decisions that threaten the constitutional rights of criminal defendants in California and across the country. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that police can use uncorroborated anonymous tips to arrest drunk driving suspects. And the U.S. Supreme Court determined that police are no longer required to knock and announce themselves when serving a search warrant at a private home.

These high court rulings show why it’s more important than ever to have a skilled lawyer representing the rights of every criminal defendant, said Darren T. Kavinoky, who is widely regarded as one of the top defense attorneys in California.

“These decisions safeguard the rights of police officers, not the public,” Kavinoky said. “Defendants need top-notch legal representation to ensure they get a fair shake in the justice system.”

The attorneys of the Kavinoky Law Firm have the skills and experience needed to ensure that individuals facing charges of driving under the influence or other criminal offenses receive the quality defense they deserve. During a free consultation, one of the firm’s top attorneys will carefully review the facts of a case to determine the best defense strategy.

Although the courts continue to weaken the rights of criminal defendants, many options still exist to challenge arrests and evidence. Mounting an aggressive defense can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.