Richland County Illegal Car Stops Lawyer
Understanding Your Rights When You’re Pulled Over
In order for the police to pull a car over, reasonable suspicion is required. In essence, “reasonable suspicion” means a police officer has reason to believe a driver has committed a crime (or is involved in criminal activity). For instance, if an officer sees a car driving erratically or notices its occupants throwing weapons out of its windows, he has reason to believe there may be criminal activity involved. However, if a driver isn’t in violation of any traffic laws and doesn’t exhibit suspicious behavior, an officer doesn’t have reasonable suspicion to pull him or her over. In cases involving interstate car stops and drug arrests, officers may use a profile to identify suspicious cars. Here, a driver’s ethnicity or out-of-state license plate may lead an officer to pull a driver over and then ask if he can search the car. However, being of a certain ethnicity does not, by itself, constitute "suspicious behavior." Here, a number of constitutional issues are involved that may prevent any drug evidence seized from being introduced at trial.
At the Law Office of David B. Tarr, I represent and defend people arrested on drug charges after an illegal car stop. I understand the constitutional issues involved and how to identify questionable car stops and car searches that will not, in all likelihood, hold up in court. If you’ve been arrested for drug possession in relation to a car stop, contact drug possession lawyer David B. Tarr today.
Car Searches, Drugs, and Illegal Car Stops
If an officer has reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over -- for example, because he was speeding -- he may ask if he can search your car. It is your Fourth Amendment constitutional right to refuse a search of your car. The officer can impound your car, obtain a search warrant, and then search your car. However, without a search warrant an officer needs probable cause to search a vehicle.
In general, an officer has probable cause to search a car if he sees something in plain sight or notices something to indicate a driver has broken the law. For instance, if an officer sees a bong, crack pipe, or smells marijuana he has probable cause to search your car. If there isn’t anything in plain sight to justify a car search, any drugs found during the unconstitutional search of your car will likely be thrown out at trial.
DUI, Drugs, and Car Stops
Drug possession charges often arise in conjunction with DUI car stops. Even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit, if you were given a blood or urine test you may test positive for drugs -- even if you last used a few weeks ago. In the state of South Carolina, you can then be charged with a drug crime. The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) can be quite serious.
Illegal Car Stops in South Carolina
South Carolina requires officers to videotape DUI arrests. While not every car stop is video taped, many are. As your attorney, I request copies of any dashboard video footage in order to determine if an illegal car stop occurred when you were pulled over. In cases involving allegations of drug distribution or intent to sell, the constitutionality of a car stop can make all the difference in a case.
If you’ve been arrested for possession of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or Ecstasy in connection with a car stop, contact drug possession defense attorney David B. Tarr today.