DUI Stops Leading to Drug Charges
When you see the red-and-blue lights of a police cruiser behind you, it naturally sets off alarm bells in your brain. However, if you have illegal drugs in the car with you, the situation becomes even more serious. Police officers in Maricopa County routinely use DUI stops as a way to stop motorists, at which point they then begin looking for any signs of narcotic sales or drug trafficking. As a result, DUI stops leading to drug charges are quite common. However, as an Arizona driver, you have rights, and it’s important you know what they are.
At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we proudly represent clients who were pulled over for DUI and now face drug possession or drug distribution charges. Our Phoenix criminal defense attorney, James Novak, has decades of experience fighting hard on behalf of his clients to keep illegally obtained evidence out of trial and attack the substance of the government’s case.Drug Charges Following a DUI Stop
The situation is all too common: police officers initiate a traffic stop based on a suspicion that someone is driving under the influence. As the officers approach the car, they look for any sign of drug use, such as pipes, empty packaging or the smell of freshly consumed narcotics. Once officers can point to something that suggests you may have drugs in the car, they can then search the entire vehicle.
If it sounds like police officers use DUI stops to go on a fishing expedition in hopes of finding large quantities of narcotics, that’s because that is exactly what they are doing. Unfortunately, the law is clear, and if the officers have any reason to support a vehicle search—even if it isn’t what they initially stopped you for—courts will usually uphold the search.
However, while DUI stops leading to drug charges are common, it is also common for police officers to make mistakes along the way. This opens the door for a skilled DUI defense attorney to litigate a motion to suppress to keep any evidence discovered during a vehicle search out of evidence.
Under state and federal law, police officers must have a valid reason to infringe on a driver’s freedom. Thus, from the moment a police officer flips on their lights, they need to justify their actions. Initially, officers need to have reasonable suspicion that a driver violated a traffic law to pull them over. However, once an officer pulls you over, they can’t just search your car without establishing probable cause that you committed a crime. This is why officers will often ask questions designed to trip you up. For example, if you provide inconsistent answers or fumble over your words, it may give the officer probable cause because courts have held that nervousness, in some situations, factors into the probable cause analysis.
However, just because an officer takes the stand and testifies to a fact doesn’t make it true. Courts routinely find police officers to be not credible when they cannot provide any support for their conclusions. During cross-examination, a defense attorney can also bring out facts that go against a finding of probable cause, which may allow the judge to grant a motion to suppress without finding that an officer was not credible.
The bottom line is everyone knows police officers use DUI traffic stops as an excuse to stop a car so they can search for drugs. While you may not be able to prevent the government from charging you with a drug crime after an officer searches your car, you can challenge the recovery of any evidence through a motion to suppress.Were You Arrested for Drug Charges Following a DUI Stop?
If you face drug charges as a result of a DUI stop, reach out to the Law Office of James E. Novak to learn more about how you can fight the case. Attorney Novak has decades of experience—both as a prosecutor and a defense lawyer—dealing with DUI stops leading to drug charges. He understands your rights and is ready to aggressively advocate on your behalf to uphold them. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499.