On June 21, 1788, the United States Constitution was ratified. The document remains the law of the Land today, with a few modifications, known as amendments. The Constitution has become a symbol of the American ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice. Though over 200 years old, the Constitution remains essential to this day.
As you can already tell, I am a bit of a constitutional nerd. I am amazed by the idea that words written by individuals so many years ago can have such a lasting impact on our everyday lives. Specifically, when it comes to the Constitution, I am particularly interested in the protections it offers individuals who are charged with crimes. To research and further understand these protections, I decided to look up and examine some of the protections given to individuals accused of one of the most common crimes: Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
The crime of DUI concerns an individual who is operating his or her motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content above a certain specified limit. Often, individuals are unjustly charged with a DUI offense. If this is the case, they do not have to submit to the justice system without a fight. They have the protections of the Constitution on their side.
During my research, I came across an exceptional article by the DUI lawyers of Truslow & Truslow. The article explained that an individual wrongfully charged with DUI has two constitutional weapons on his side: The Fourth Amendment and the Fifth Amendment.
The article explained that the Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. This protection would take effect if an officer pulled someone over when they had reasonable suspicion in violation of the Constitution. According to the article, a reasonable suspicion could be created by strange driving behaviors, such as an illegal turn, extremely slow or fast driving, or drifting from lane to lane. When the reasonable suspicion is not enough, yet the officer pulls someone over, the Fourth Amendment may protect that individual from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Also, the article explained that the Fifth Amendment protects an individual from being a witness against himself in a criminal case. This amendment is where the term “I plead the Fifth” comes from. Pleading the fifth means that you can remain silent after you were arrested for a DUI charge. The Fifth Amendment inherently limits the evidence that can be used against you during your trial.
The Fourth and Fifth Amendments provide rights for those wrongfully charged with DUI offenses. Our country was built on the Constitution, and we need to understand, appreciate, and incorporate the protections the Constitution gives individuals. Of course, we were meant to use these protections. Otherwise, the founders would not have written them into our supreme document. These protections should be used even in the most common charges, such as DUI charges. Know your rights and plead the Fifth!