Can the Police Search Your Vehicle During A DWI Stop?

Can the Police Search Your Vehicle After During A DWI Stop?Law enforcement officers are allowed to ask to see a driver’s license and registration during a traffic stop. They are also permitted to conduct sobriety tests if they believe the driver is intoxicated. But, can the police search your vehicle during a DWI stop? Here’s what you need to know to protect your rights:

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. Due to the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement officers usually cannot conduct a search without an authorized search warrant.

Police Searches During DWI Stops

There are several exceptions to the search warrant requirement that apply to DWI stops. First, the police can conduct a search of your vehicle as long as you have given consent. No warrant is needed if you approve the police officer’s search request.

There is also the “plain view exception,” which allows police officers to seize evidence that is in plain view. For example, let’s say an officer sees marijuana sitting on your passenger seat when he comes to your window during a DWI stop. He could seize the marijuana without a warrant and use it as evidence since it was in plain view.

Another exception to the search and seizure law applies specifically to cars. The “automobile exception” states that an officer can conduct a warrantless search of a vehicle if he has probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime inside the car. For example, let’s say an officer conducting a DWI stop has probable cause to believe that there are controlled substances within the car. In this case, the officer can conduct a warrantless search to look for this evidence that could prove the driver is intoxicated.

It’s important to note that although a warrant is not necessary in this situation, probable cause is still required. This means the police officer cannot conduct a search simply because he feels like it or has a hunch that there is evidence in your car. He must reasonably believe that there is evidence in your car based on the facts and circumstances in order to establish probable cause and conduct a warrantless search.

Have you been accused of DWI? The skilled criminal defense attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC are here to help. We will defend your rights and fight for your future from the start to the finish of your case. Call our office at 816-322-8008, email us at info@benjaminlawkc.com or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today.

When Should You Plead the Fifth?

When Should You Plead the Fifth?The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects people from being forced to incriminate themselves in criminal cases. A person who chooses to exercise this right to protection from self-incrimination is said to “plead the fifth.” When should a person plead the fifth? Here’s when you need to exercise this right:

When You’re On Trial

Defendants have the right to choose whether or not they want to take the stand and testify in their trial. No one can force a defendant to take the stand, including the prosecution, defense, or judge, since this would be a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.

If you believe it is in your best interest to testify, you can take the stand and tell your side of the story. Otherwise, you can plead the fifth to protect yourself from self-incrimination. There are no consequences for pleading the fifth at trial. In fact, the jury cannot take this decision into consideration when deciding whether or not you are guilty.

When You’re A Witness

Defendants aren’t the only ones who are given the right to plead the fifth—witnesses can, too. If a witness testifies in a criminal case, he can plead the fifth to a question if he could incriminate himself by answering it. A witness is not refusing to take the stand when he chooses to plead the fifth. Instead, he is choosing not to answer specific questions that could lead to self-incrimination.

When You’ve Been Arrested

Shortly after you are arrested, law enforcement may start questioning you about the crime you are accused of committing. Your answers to these questions could be taken out of context and used as evidence against you later on in your case. For this reason, it is best to exercise your right to remain silent by pleading the fifth. Exercising this right can protect you from having to answer questions about your connection to criminal activity.

When You Cannot Plead the Fifth

The Fifth Amendment does not apply to the collection of physical evidence, such as DNA samples or fingerprints. Therefore, a defendant cannot refuse to provide this physical evidence to law enforcement even if he knows that providing it will prove he has committed a crime. In this situation, the Fifth Amendment does not protect defendants from self-incrimination.

Have you been charged with a crime? The criminal defense attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC guide the accused and protect their rights through every step in their criminal case. With our help, the accused can reach the best possible outcome in their case. Call our office at 816-322-8008, email us at info@benjaminlawkc.com or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today.

The Long-Term Consequences of DWI Convictions

The Long-Term Consequences of DWI ConvictionsIt’s estimated that over 1.1 million people are arrested for DWI in the U.S. every year. Although some of these people are repeat DWI offenders, the vast majority are first-time offenders who simply made a regrettable mistake. But sadly, this mistake can affect your life for years following your conviction. Here’s a look at the long-term consequences of DWI convictions:

Issues With Employment

Having a DWI on your record can affect your current and future employment. You may immediately lose your job after a DWI conviction if you are required to operate a vehicle in your line of work. It can be hard to find another job as well since DWI convictions will show up in your background check. Other employers may not want to hire someone with a DWI conviction–even if the job doesn’t require operating a vehicle. These employers may look at your DWI conviction as a sign that you are irresponsible and untrustworthy.

Higher Insurance Rates

Being convicted of DWI will affect your auto insurance rates, too. Drivers with DWI convictions on their record are classified as high-risk drivers, which means they are more likely to cause property damage or injuries than other drivers. High-risk drivers are riskier to insure, so insurance companies charge them higher rates for coverage. You may end up paying higher rates for years following your conviction.

In addition, some insurance companies may not even want to insure you, so it could be harder to find coverage in the first place.

Restricted Travel

Many people are surprised to learn that a DWI conviction can affect your ability to travel freely around the world. Each country has its own laws regarding who is and is not allowed to enter. Countries often prohibit people with serious criminal offenses on their record to enter, but the problem is that the definition of “serious criminal offense” varies from country-to-country. Great Britain will not deny someone entry simply because he has been convicted of DWI, for example. Other countries, such as Canada, classify DWI as a serious offense. These countries can choose to deny entry to anyone with a DWI conviction on their record.

These are some of the many long-term consequences of DWI. Because the consequences are so severe, it’s in your best interests to aggressively fight the charges to protect your future.

Have you been charged with DWI? If so, the experienced attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC are ready to help. Let our criminal defense attorneys fight tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome in your case so you can avoid these long-term consequences of a conviction. Call our office at 816-322-8008, email us at info@benjaminlawkc.com or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today.