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In any criminal matter, there are certain constitutional rights and protections that the suspect is entitled to receive from the second the police begin the encounter through the entire legal process. When situations arise, however, and emotions are running high, it can be difficult to identify whether your constitutional rights are being protected or whether you are being treated unfairly. As seasoned Cleveland DUI attorneys serving individuals throughout Akron and Cuyahoga County, we have seen numerous instances in which someone faces erroneous charges based on a constitutional violation. In some situations, the individual had no idea that his or her rights were being compromised. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, it is advisable that you speak to a seasoned attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal rights and options.DUI / OVI Constitutional Rights During a Traffic Stop
Before the police can initiate a traffic stop, the officer has to have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is occurring or very recently occurred. This can include simple traffic violations such as failing to use a turn signal, crossing the yellow line, or failing to yield the right-of-way. In situations where a driver is intoxicated, the officer may have noticed that a driver was weaving or driving at erratic speeds. If the police do not have a reasonable suspicion when they stop you, then any information or evidence that they obtain during that stop must be suppressed as illegally obtained.
During the traffic stop, the police may perform a field sobriety test that involves several stages and steps. The police cannot force you to submit to this test but you should carefully consider the implications of refusing before deciding whether to refuse. You have the right to refuse to the test, but there are consequences for refusing such as the immediate suspension or prolonged suspension of your driver’s license. If you have a commercial driver’s license, the suspension is for a lengthy period of time, which could have serious implications for your employment and job prospects. Also, if you have been convicted of another drunk driving offense within the last 20 years, it is important to note that you can be charged with a separate crime if you refuse to submit to the field sobriety test and are found guilty of driving while under the influence.
Also, as many people know, you have the right to remain silent. Even before you are officially arrested, you have the right to remain silent, including when the police initially question you regarding where you are coming from, where you are going, and how much you have had to drink. Some people think that talking to the police and working with them is the best way to resolve the situation, but it can sometimes make things worse if you don’t understand the questions or if you are overwhelmed in the moment and don’t explain things correctly. Once you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent until an attorney is present.After an Arrest
After arrest, there are a few grounds based on DUI / OVI constitutional rights that can be used to fight the charges against you. First, the Ohio statute regarding driving while intoxicated requires the authorities to show that you were operating the vehicle. This is defined as causing or recently having caused the vehicle to move. If you were not operating the vehicle, you cannot be charged with the drunk driving offense even if you are over the legal limit.
Finally, if the police violate any due process procedures or protections in your case, then any evidence they obtain as a result of the violation must be suppressed. This includes improper and illegal searches, failing to have reasonable suspicion when they initiate a traffic stop, or failing to perform a sufficient field sobriety test.Retain a Tenacious DUI Lawyer in Cleveland
DUIs / OVIs are some of the most stressful situations that a driver can experience, especially if it is your first time being involved with law enforcement. A seasoned criminal attorney in Cleveland can help you identify any DUI / OVI constitutional rights issues that may be involved in your situation. We have handled a wide variety of drunk driving defense matters on behalf of individuals located throughout Parma, Bedford, Berea, Rocky River, Garfield Heights, Stow, and Barberton. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 216-520-5297 or contact us online.