Constitutional Issues in Howard County DUI Cases

With regards to DUIs and the constitution, the most common amendments that come into play are the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, which include the laws regarding search and seizure rights as well as the right not to incriminate yourself.

Almost every DUI has some implications under the Fourth Amendment, but a person’s protections when they are stopped for a DUI are not always considered. For this reason, it is very important for a person to have a Howard County DUI attorney on their side to ensure the defendant is protected as best as possible, and to combat a potential conviction.

Protections of the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment does not necessarily offer any kinds of protections in a DUI case. With regards to the search and seizure of anything in plain sight, officers are allowed to see in the car. If they smell alcohol or see anything potentially illegal they are allowed to ask questions. They do not have to Mirandize the individual at that point and give the proper advisement—that would be more indicative of what would be in the Fifth Amendment with regards to if the person had been questioned subsequently to being detained. Ultimately, it is rare that investigators do not question individuals.

It is also rare that an officer reads someone their Miranda Rights in these situations, especially when the officer is just requesting to see the individual’s license and registration. The Supreme Court has said that submitting to a breath test is not an interrogation and the officer’s advisement with regards to Miranda is not necessary because of the advisement’s a person gets in Maryland under the DR-15 form. This form advises a person of their rights to submit to a breath or a blood test.


With regards to an officer showing that a constitutional search had been done, the officer must have probable cause. They have to have a reason to further their investigation, which they can base on observations and their extended investigation over time. It has to show a reason to believe that a crime has been or is being committed and that it was observed by the officer or a reputable tip has come in. Something that would allow them to move forward and break that line that gets them beyond just speaking to you and going into what would be personal space.

Search and Seizure

Search and seizure essentially means an officer is to detain you as an individual. Even if it is a temporary hold, it is some type of search of your personal property and that can certainly include the vehicle.

Warrantless Search

A warrantless search is a search that conducts the investigation without a warrant and that creates an inherent problem with the Fourth Amendment, which is intended to protect unless there is an exigent circumstance. The officer does not always need to have the warrant to get into the vehicle.

Other Constitutional Issues in DUI Cases

The other issue, which has been litigated many times, is the implied consent that a person gives to the state once they sign their license. That signature on the front of a license says that the person will adhere to all the transportation articles of the state.

The back of a Maryland license says that driving in Maryland implies consent to chemical testing for intoxication as required by law. The implied consent from having a license means that a person has consented to breath or blood testing. A refusal to do road-side DUI tests can result in a license suspension because of implied consent.