Can Police Search Your Cell Phone During a DUI Stop in Alabama?

Tags: DUI

To build a case against you, law enforcement officials will look at every angle. Who were you with and where were you before getting pulled over? Did you appear to be intoxicated? Did you cause an accident? How did you behave at the time of your arrest? Remember that even before you are arrested, police officers will be collecting evidence to be used against you in court. But, what about your phone records? How likely is it that officers will pull your records as part of evidence in a DUI case?

According to an NPR report, the Supreme Court is currently hearing cases about whether police can search cellphone records without a warrant at the time of an arrest. Our Birmingham DUI defense attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of defendants. We understand state DUI law and the Constitutional underpinnings of the Fourth Amendment. In any DUI case, we will explore the circumstances of your arrest and aggressively defend your right against illegal search and seizure. In the event that your rights have been violated, our legal team will seek to suppress any resulting evidence.

The Supreme Court has interpreted the 4th Amendment to mean that law enforcement officials are banned from unreasonable search and seizure, requiring a police warrant upon probable cause. Search warrants must be specific about how search will be conducted and what evidence is being sought. In some instances, the court does not require a search warrant, for example at the time of arrest. These cases were limited to what was found on a person at the time of arrest—but what if officers pull a cell phone from your pocket?

A cellphone can carry as much data as a computer and could potentially implicate a suspect in a crime. Law enforcement wants to protect the right to seize data from cellphones while civil rights advocates argue that this was not the intention of the framers. Currently, two cases before the Supreme Court are weighing the question of whether police can seize cellphones and their data without a warrant. Both cases involve routine stops, arrests, and the seizure of cellphone records that led police to charge defendants with additional and more serious crimes, including gang related offenses.

Evidence that is illegally obtained can be suppressed. Defense attorneys have taken both of these cases to the Supreme Court, which must answer the question of whether seizing a cellphone without a warrant is in violation of the Constitution. The case could also impact DUI defendants whose cellphones are seized. Cellphone records during a DUI arrest could potentially implicate a defendant in an underlying crime, as well as additional or more serious offenses.

The question for the court is whether it should continue to allow officers to pursue warrantless bodily searches at the time of arrest or if rules should change to protect defendants who carry information in a smartphone. Depending on Supreme Court ruling, all defendants who are arrested for DUI or other crimes, could potentially face a host of other legal issues if law enforcement officials are able to search their cellphones for additional evidence.

If you are facing criminal charges in Alabama, contact Alabama Criminal Lawyers at (205) 981-2450 or use our online contact form.

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