When You Might Be Able to Sue Police After a Suspected DUI
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure by the government. In a recent Wyoming case, a Cheyenne man sued three police officers in federal court for violating his civil rights, as reported by the Gillette News Record. This civil suit was filed by Michael A. Sena after a municipal court judge ruled in his DUI case that one of these officers had lied under oath to a judge, stating that Sena had refused to take a blood test in order to obtain a search warrant. The DUI case was dismissed.
Sena alleges that he refused the blood test and consented to a urine test, but the officer lied to the judge, saying Sena had refused both. The officers then used this invalid warrant to force Sena to go to a hospital and have a blood sample taken against his will, in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Municipal Court Judge Tony Ross stated that the blood draw was invalid and ordered that it be suppressed as evidence.
What Can Police Officers Do in a Suspected DUI Stop in Wyoming?
Citizens have rights, even when they are being arrested and charged with a crime. Police officers must have a reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle in the first place and probable cause to arrest you, or the case may be dismissed.
Certain observations may constitute reasonable suspicion of DUI for police officers, such as:
- Drifting in and out of the lane
- Slow or erratic driving
- Frequent braking
- Straddling the center line
- Making illegal turns
- Near collision with another vehicle
- Stopping in the middle of the road
Even with reasonable suspicion of DUI, police officers must establish probable cause before they can make an arrest. To do this, they may administer a breath test and/or field sobriety tests or attempt to extract a confession. Police officers must follow strict procedures in administering DUI testing. If the breathalyzer was not calibrated correctly, the reading may be deemed inadmissible as evidence. Under Wyoming law, when law enforcement requires that a person’s blood alcohol content be tested, that person has the right to choose whether it will be a blood test or a urine test. Police officers can only obtain a warrant to enforce a blood draw if the person has also refused a urine test.
What Are the Penalties for DUI in Wyoming?
Wyoming is tough on driving under influence. Typical penalties for DUI are:
- First offense: This carries up to six months jail time, up to $750 in fines, and driver’s license suspension for 90 days.
- Second offense: Penalties are the same as for a first offense, except driver’s license suspension is for one year and an ignition interlock device is required for one year.
- Third offense: With two previous convictions, a DUI carries a jail sentence of up to six months, fines of up to $3,000, driver’s license suspension for three years, and an ignition interlock device for two years.
- Fourth offense: A DUI becomes a felony with a fourth offense within 10 years. The potential penalties include up to seven years in prison, fines of up to $10,000, extended driver’s license suspension, and ignition interlock device installation required for life.
You have certain rights under the Constitution if you are stopped by police on suspicion of DUI. These rights include protection from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney. It is important to contact a team of Gillette DUI defense attorneys who can evaluate your case and defend you against the charges. Call Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. at (307) 257-7800 to schedule a free case strategy session.
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