Published on:

Court Weighs Hot Pursuit Exception to Warrant Requirement in DUI Case

The police generally cannot stop a person absent a suspicion the individual is committing a crime or enter a person’s home without a warrant. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as cases in which the police are actively pursuing a criminal suspect who is attempting to evade them. In such instances, a search conducted without a warrant may be deemed proper. A California court recently heard arguments as to whether the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement applied in matters involving the investigation of a misdemeanor crime, in a case in which the defendant argued that the search that led to his DUI arrest was unlawful. If you are charged with a DUI offense, it is smart to speak with a dedicated Illinois DUI lawyer to evaluate your options.

The California Arrest

Reportedly, the defendant was playing music loudly and repeatedly honking while driving his car, both of which are misdemeanor offenses. An officer began to follow the defendant but did not activate his lights or sirens. When the defendant arrived at his home, he began to pull into his garage. The officer activated his lights before the defendant’s garage door closed, but the defendant ran into his garage. The officer then activated the door’s sensor with his foot, forcing the door to stay open.

Allegedly, the officer entered the garage and began questioning the defendant. He noticed the defendant smelled like alcohol and subsequently arrested him for DUI. Before the defendant’s trial, he filed a motion to suppress the State’s evidence, arguing the officer’s search violated his Constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The court denied his motion on the grounds the officer was in hot pursuit when he conducted the search. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing the hot pursuit exception does not apply to misdemeanor crimes. The appeals court upheld his conviction, and he then appealed to the California Supreme Court, which heard arguments on the matter but has not yet issued a ruling.

Investigating a DUI Crime in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a person can be charged with a DUI offense for driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance or with a blood alcohol level that exceeds .08%. Thus, if the police suspect that a person is driving while intoxicated, they can stop the individual and conduct an investigation. Further, the law regarding the hot pursuit exception to the warrant requirement is more clearly defined in Illinois than it is in California and expressly allows the police to follow and search a person suspected of committing a misdemeanor crime. Specifically, the Illinois courts have expressly ruled that the hot pursuit exception allowed an officer to follow a DUI suspect into his home after he attempted to evade the police.

Meet with a Seasoned Illinois DUI attorney

Criminal defendants have numerous rights, including protections from unreasonable searches, and if their rights are violated, it may constitute a basis for dismissing the charges against them. If you are faced with DUI charges, you should meet with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Theodore J. Harvatin, of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC, is a seasoned Illinois DUI defense attorney with the skills and resources needed to help you seek a favorable result. You can reach Mr. Harvatin by calling 217.525.0520 or via the online form to set up a conference.

Contact Information