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Criminal Defense in Denver: Can A Police Officer Search Your Phone During A DUI Stop?

July 19, 2017

You’ve probably heard “you have the right to remain silent” on your favorite crime or cop TV show, but do you know your other rights? If a police officer pulls you over because he believes that you are under the influence of alcohol, he may want to search your phone to look for more evidence. Do you have the right to say no? According to John Buckley, an attorney who practices criminal defense in Denver, you can absolutely say no to this request.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that police officers cannot search someone’s private property without that person’s consent or a search warrant. In 2014, the Supreme Court heard a case regarding whether warrantless cell phone searches were prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. The court ruled those police officers are not allowed to search through someone’s cell phone without a warrant or the person’s consent. Learn more about the Fourth Amendment here.

Why would a police officer want to search your phone during a DUI stop? Police officers are interested in finding evidence that you were recently drinking. They may look through your photos to see if there are any recent photos of you chugging a beer or taking shots. He could also look at your texts to see if you engaged in conversations with friends or family about how intoxicated you are. All of this evidence can be used to prove that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol.

But, there are some exceptions where police officers can legally search your phone even if you do not give their consent and they do not have a warrant to conduct the search. If the police officer believes that there are exigent circumstances, he may conduct a search of your phone without waiting to obtain a warrant. For example, if the police officer believes that there is evidence on your phone that may be destroyed if it is not captured right away, he may use this as a reason to search your phone without a warrant.

It’s also important to note that if you are arrested, a police officer can seize your phone and hold onto it until he has obtained a warrant. There is no guarantee that the police officer will be able to obtain the warrant, though.

It’s imperative to understand these rights so you know how to protect yourself in the event that you are pulled over by a police officer. If a police officer asks if he can search your phone, politely and firmly say that you do not consent to the search. Even if you don’t think there is anything incriminating on your phone, it’s best to say no to this request.

If you are arrested and charged with DUI, seek legal representation from the Law Office of John Buckley right away. Our attorneys work tirelessly to defend your rights and ensure you receive the best legal representation possible. Contact John L. Buckley to schedule a legal consultation regarding your case.