Court: OK to Arrest in Home Without Warrant….if a DUI

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on June 1st, 2006

The latest victory in the War on Drunk Driving…and on our Constitution:

Justices: Police Can Arrest DUI Suspects

 in Homes With No Warrant

San Francisco, CA.  June 1 – Police may enter Californians’ homes without warrants to arrest those suspected of driving under the influence, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a case testing the scope of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The 6-1 decision follows similar rulings in about a dozen other states.

A dissenting justice said the majority handed authorities a "free pass" to unlawfully enter private homes and arrest people without warrants.

Under the Fourth Amendment, authorities are prohibited from entering a home and making an arrest without a warrant unless so-called "exigent" circumstances are present. Those include "hot pursuit" of a fleeing felon, imminent destruction of evidence and the risk of danger to the police or other persons inside or outside of a house, among others…

A state court of appeal tossed the conviction, saying Thompson’s constitutional rights were violated. The Supreme Court reversed, saying the lower court misapplied search-and-seizure precedent.

Santa Barbara County prosecutor Gerald McC. Franklin said the decision means there is no "absolute bar into entering a house without a warrant for the purpose of arresting somebody for driving under the influence of alcohol."

‘Still think I’ve been exaggerating about "The DUI Exception to the Constitution"?

  • Tox Lab Guy

    How long does it take to get a warrant in CA? If the suspect has a measurable blood alcohol level that may be incriminating, I think the “imminent destruction” of that evidence, i.e. waiting around for a warrant, is a weak argument at best.

  • Lawrence Taylor

    Warrants can normally be obtained fairly quickly, sometimes telephonically.  Granted, a weak argument for the prosecution…but we are commonly dealing with essentially political issues in the DUI field, not legal ones.