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Georgia Search and Seizure

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The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In Georgia, your rights protected in this amendment are dependent on the issue of probable cause. Police officers use probable cause as reasonable justification for searching a person, home, or vehicle. The officer has a duty to perform a search and/or seizure if he or she believes a crime has been committed or is in the process of being committed.

A police officer is not allowed to search a person or property unless he or she has obtained a search warrant or arrest warrant or believes that a crime is being committed or will be committed.

How does this pertain to a driving under the influence case? If a police officer pulls over a driver for a traffic violation (such as running a stop sign or weaving) and smells alcohol on the driver’s breath or sees alcohol bottles laying on the passenger side floor, this gives the officer probable cause to believe that a crime may be in progress.

After the officer establishes that a violation is being committed, he or she has probable cause to search the vehicle without a search warrant being necessary.

If the officer did not have probable cause or did not obtain permission before searching the driver’s vehicle, an illegal search and seizure has occurred. The use of any evidence obtained during the illegal search will be inadmissible in court.

If you are the victim of an illegal search and seizure, it is important that you hire an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your attorney will make sure that your rights are upheld when you go to court. Don’t allow evidence gathered illegally to be used against you.

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