September 1, 2020
The Violation of our Constitutional Rights in a DUI Investigation
In the United States, all citizens are protected by the Bill of Rights, or the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The accused has several guarantees under the Bill of Rights including the presumption that people are innocent until legally proven guilty, due process of the law and the right to a fair trial. The Constitution is intended to protect those who have been accused of violating the law. While these constitutional protections are supposed to be unyielding, state laws and prosecutorial actions end up reducing or altering the rights of defendants accused of DUI. To ensure your rights are protected, contact a DUI lawyer to represent you.
The Constitution does not limit our rights based on a specific criminal charge. Which means that someone accused of homicide and someone accused of petit theft are entitled to the same rights. These rights apply to you as a citizen, not to the crime you are accused of committing. Though this is the way it is supposed to be, this is not the way it is. The courts have continuously found ways to limit the rights of people accused of DUI.
If you are arrested for DUI, your license is immediately taken from you and your driving privileges suspended. For the next 10 days you may drive to work or for business purposes only using your ticket as a permit. This is a form of punishment as your rights have been taken from you before you have even had the chance to post bail or speak with a lawyer. You are presumed guilty even though the Constitution guarantees you are to be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.
When being investigated for committing a crime you are entitled to speak to a lawyer before questioning or being asked to give incriminating evidence against yourself. This is not true in the case of a DUI. You do NOT have the right to speak to a lawyer before deciding whether to submit to testing. Under Florida’s implied consent law, drivers must submit to testing if a police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance. If you refuse to take the test, you are immediately punished by having your license suspended and you will not be able to drive for at least one year. The Fifth Amendment affords us the right not to incriminate ourselves, yet our state laws punish us if we choose to invoke our rights.
Florida is one of 38 states that conduct DUI checkpoints. These are temporary roadblocks set up by law enforcement officers to check drivers for signs of intoxication or impairment. Officers may choose to check every driver who comes through or choose drivers at random. The fourth amendment protects all Americans from unreasonable search and seizure by the authorities. This means that unless the police have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime, they may not pull you over, detain you, search you, or seize your property. At a DUI checkpoint, they do not have to have a reason for stopping you. This is yet another infringement on our constitutional rights.
After a DUI arrest, the government will start two proceedings – an administrative proceeding and a criminal proceeding. You must fight the same charge in both the criminal courts and at the Bureau of Administrative Review, Division of Motor Vehicles. You are required to respond to both and a loss at either will result in you losing your privilege to drive. You have the right to contest the revocation of your driver’s license at the Bureau of Administrative Review. Even if you win that hearing, you are still at risk of your driver’s license suspension being upheld if you lose in criminal court. Yep – the government gets two chances to take your license from you. What happened to our fifth amendment right protecting us from double jeopardy?
If you are looking for a DUI lawyer to ensure you take advantage of all constitutional protections afforded to you, please contact the Law Office of Brian H. Mallonee at (772) 464-1991.
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