What is the law on DUI searches? 10 Answers as of August 04, 2011

Someone told me cops can't do a full search of someones belongings before an arrest only a search from the outside of the car for an open container.And someone else told me cops can search anything not locked.If someone is stopped lawfully and cop smells alcohol can he search the car?

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Lowenstein Law Office
Lowenstein Law Office | Anthony Lowenstein
It depends on several factors.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/4/2011
Nelson & Lawless
Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
I just love all the free [wrong] advice people get. Police are generally allowed to do a full search upon any stop, with cause such as odor of alcohol or suspicious behavior. More to the point: When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence, facts and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. Keep in mind a little free advice: When arrested for DUI, whether alcohol or drugs, then upon release from jail or booking the defendant is given documents that include a notice that you have only ten days to file a request with DMV for a hearing on an appeal of an automatic one-year suspension of your license imposed by DMV. That is separate and runs consecutively with any suspension that may be imposed by the court. Contact DMV and do so, timely, then appear at your scheduled DMV appeal hearing and present any supporting evidence and testimony. If you don't know how to do these things, then hire an attorney that does.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/22/2011
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
A police officer can search if he has probable cause. After stopping a car and smelling alcohol the officer has probable cause to search for an open container of alcohol.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/22/2011
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller
Law Office of Thomas F. Mueller | Thomas Mueller
If the car stop was lawful (police had probable cause) and they detect the odor of alchohol, they are allowed to search for evidence of it anywhere in the passenger compartment. If they see something of a contraband nature while looking for alchohol the law allows them to seize that also.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/22/2011
Grant & Grant
Grant & Grant | Richard L. Grant, Esq.
Unless the police has been given consent, the driver is on probation, and the items are in clear view, no search or seizure is permitted without a search warrant.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
    Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
    It depends on all of the circumstances. In general you are correct. The problem is after an arrest they usually impound the car for safekeeping and then it often can be search pursuant to an inventory search thus exposing the trunk etc. to inspection.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    A.L.A. Law Group, LLP
    A.L.A. Law Group, LLP | Lauren M. Mayfield
    Yes, if he believes there is evidence of the crime in the vehicle the officer can search. Therefore, if the officer believes there is an open container in the car when someone gets pulled over for drunk driving the officer can search the vehicle for a container of alcohol. This is a very fact specific issue so you should speak with a criminal defense attorney right away to discuss your particular facts.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
    Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
    The officer has to have probable cause to search a vehicle. If a police officer smells marijuana or other legal substance he can search the car. If the officer arrests a person for a DUI then he can legally search the vehicle as part of an inventory search. An officer cannot automatically search anything that is not locked. However, if an officer sees illegal substances or evidence of a crime in plain view the officer can seize that. It is always better to keep your belongings in the trunk or locked glove box.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    There are really two questions here: First, what can the police search when they stop you. Well, when they stop you, they can pat you down for weapons (Terry). If they see anything in plain view in your car or on your person, they can seize that as evidence. They cannot go into containers or search areas that are not easily reachable by the person stopped (no trunk searches without more). Then when they arrest you they can perform an inventory search of your person and car to catalog your property. Additionally, the courts have said that the cops can also search your cell phone without a search warrant incident to arrest for evidence of a crime, like possession for sale. Second, in a DUI standing alone, the physical search is not as important as the Field Sobriety Exercises, the officers observations of which are suppressible intangibles. So if you are arrested, you can be searched
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    They can only conduct a search that is incidental to the arrest. For example, if the cop smelled marijuana, then a follow-up search of your car (for drugs) would be incidental to the arrest for MJ. A simple alcohol DUI, however, is different. However, most people consent to the search unknowingly, and once you consent, say good bye to your 4th Amendment rights.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/22/2011
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