Knowing your rights can always be helpful in an encounter with the police. It is especially important to know your rights regarding your personal property. In many criminal cases, for instance such as a Virginia DUI, the charges may be dropped due to an illegal search and seizure.

What is search and seizure?

Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, citizens are protected from the intrusion of their persons, homes, businesses, and property. This pertains to police stops on the streets, as well as to searches of people's homes. It prevents police from engaging in what is known as illegal search and seizure.

The term "search and seizure" relates to the protections given under the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These protections prohibit police from searching places to which you have a "legitimate expectation of privacy". In cases pertaining to Virginia DUI, this includes a person's self, clothing, purse, and vehicle.

In order for a search and seizure to be done under legal circumstances, it must be supported by a warrant, or an officer must have probable cause.

So what searches may an officer legally perform in a Virginia DUI?

There are several scenarios that make it legal for an officer to perform a search and seizure. In a Virginia DUI an officer may: 

  • Use information or tips from a witness to justify probable cause;
  • Search your person and immediate surroundings when placing you under arrest;
  • Perform a search and seizure of property that is exposed and in plain view, meaning that there was no legitimate "expectation of privacy"; and
  • Search your vehicle with your consent, when it is freely and voluntarily given. 

In many cases of DUI an officer may ask permission to search your vehicle. But they can only do so with your given consent, or with some form of probable cause.

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Bob Battle
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100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts