Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Are You Safe From a DUI Arrest In Your Home?

While it is true that most DUI arrests take place on city streets, many do occur in the home. Many believe the police cannot arrest a person for a DUI if they are in their own home.  While this is generally true, the Courts have allowed the police to enter a person's home even without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe the person recently drove and is DUI. The most basic evidence the police need to arrest someone in their own home for DUI is to prove the person drove within 3 hours of arrival and did not consume any alcohol or drugs once they got home.

The seminal case on the subject is Welsh, a US Supreme Court case that ruled a search of a home for a DUI driver was illegal.   In Welsh v. Wisconsin (1984) 466 US 740, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment was violated when an officer made a warrantless entry into a residence to arrest a DUI suspect.  Apparently though is Wisconsin the law treats DUI as a ticket which carries only a fine as punishment. Unlike Wisconsin, California treats DUI as a criminal offense, subject to fines and mandatory incarceration. This distinction was relied on by the California Supreme Court to find that a warrantless entry to arrest a recent DUI suspect did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

There have been more recent California cases which allow warrantless entry in a home for DWI suspects.  We will discuss these cases and the current legal trends in future articles.

Matthew Ruff is a DUI Lawyer in California, he can be reached at 310-527-4100

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