Many North Dakota residents enjoy alcoholic beverages at holiday parties. Unfortunately, some may then decide to get in their cars and drive home. Law enforcement agencies are typically on high alert throughout the holidays and are actively watching for seemingly erratic driving. If someone is stopped by police, they may face drunk driving charges. However, one former Bismarck resident now finds her DUI charge at the center of a Fourth Amendment debate before the state's Supreme Court.
In Dec. 2016, a 52-year-old woman was driving home after a holiday party. According to reports from the Bismarck Police Department, an officer attempted to stop the woman for an apparent traffic violation. The woman allegedly continued to drive about 30 seconds longer before pulling into a detached garage on her property.
A police officer entered the garage to question the woman. She was then charged with driving under the influence by the police. She also faces charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Her attorney argues that the officer did not have a warrant to enter her garage, thereby violating her Fourth Amendment rights. The City of Bismarck officials contend that the woman tried to avoid arrest by continuing to drive to her own property.
Certainly, everyone that is charged with drunk driving does not end up in front of the state Supreme Court. However, any drunk driving offense should be taken seriously. A conviction could result in significant fines or jail time. An experienced North Dakota criminal defense attorney can help clients present a rigorous case against the charges. A strong defense team will evaluate all the evidence presented in the case to assess whether it was properly obtained.
Source: bismarcktribune.com, "Possible Fourth Amendment violation assessed before North Dakota Supreme Court", Jack Dura, Nov. 28, 2017