Under State and Federal law, the police typically need a warrant to enter a home or search a person. There are some exceptions, though, such as when the police are actively pursuing a suspect. There is a split among the states, though, as to whether the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applies when the person being pursued is suspected of committing a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to rule on the issue in a case arising out of California. While the ruling on the matter will not be issued until sometime next year, it could impact people’s rights in Illinois and throughout the country. If you live in Illinois and you were subjected to a warrantless search during a DUI investigation, it is in your best interest to speak to a skillful Illinois DUI attorney to assess your rights.
The California Case
It is reported that the defendant was followed by a patrolman for violating a state traffic law. The officer activated his lights but not his sirens, but the defendant did not stop. The defendant pulled into his garage, after which the patrolman entered the garage by placing his foot under the garage door when it was closing. Once in the garage, the patrolman spoke with the defendant and noticed that his breath smelled of alcohol. The defendant was subsequently charged with DUI.
Allegedly, at trial, the defendant argued that the patrolman’s entry into his garage violated his Fourth Amendment right against warrantless searches, and therefore the evidence against him must be precluded. The court rejected this argument, stating that the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applied, regardless of the fact that the defendant was being pursued for a misdemeanor. The matter was appealed to the Supreme Court, who decided to rule on the issue, with an oral argument scheduled for February 2021 or later.