The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides individuals from unreasonable searches or seizures. New York criminal defendants who believe that they were the subject of an unreasonable search or seizure should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies. This amendment requires law enforcement officials to have probable cause before stopping or searching an individual. The law defines probable cause as a reasonable belief that a crime is underway or has taken place.
The laws surrounding probable cause are often vague and allow law enforcement a great deal of discretion in determining whether a stop is appropriate. While law enforcement maintains this discretionary power, they must still abide by the law. After an officer stops a defendant, they maintain a limited right to search the vehicle and seize evidence. Officers may seize items that are in plain sight without a warrant. Defendants subject to an unlawful stop may file a motion to suppress evidence obtained from the detention.
In cases involving DWI arrests, police may use evidence of a driver’s erratic driving and speeding as probable cause to stop the driver. Further, evidence of failed sobriety field tests and breathalyzer results may be probable cause for the driver’s arrest. For instance, recently, a New York driver was charged with DWI, making an unsafe lane change, and driving below the minimum speed. Amongst other things, the driver moved to suppress all of her statements and the results of a breathalyzer test. She argued that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest her.