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College student arrested for not having headlights on

When someone is pulled over and arrested, most people in Montgomery County would assume that it was because of some kind of serious offense. In some cases, however, it is merely a matter that police have stretched the limits of the stop to find potentially incriminating evidence of a more serious crime. There are protections, however, from unreasonable searches and seizures that prevent police from stopping and searching whichever cars they want.

When an officer violates an individual's Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, the evidence gathered is often thrown out, making it more difficult to convict someone of an offense. It is unknown if a 20-year-old woman's arrest for driving under the influence will be a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights, but it is a topic that may come up in her DUI trial.

The 20-year-old was initially pulled over because her headlights were off. While an officer could have just approached her car, told her to turn on her lights and then her go, this officer required the woman provide a driver's license. As she was looking for her license, the officer claims that he or she could smell alcohol. The officer than required the young woman to get out of the car and take field sobriety tests and a breath test.

It is unknown how much alcohol the breath test allegedly found and if it was under the legal limit, but the woman was arrested for DUI. The question remains, however, whether it was in the officer's scope to ask the woman to perform field sobriety and breath tests for something so minor as driving without having her headlights on.

Source: The Athens Red and Black, "Off headlights spur DUI charges against UGA student,'" Erica Techo, Aug. 16, 2012

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Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013