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OVI Conviction Reversed On Fourth Amendment Grounds

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Last week, the Eight District Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's decision to convict a defendant of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI) after citing Fourth Amendment protections. According to the case summary, police forced open the door to the defendant's dwelling and did not have a warrant.

The man was charged with OVI, pled "no contest," and was found guilty in a municipal court. He then appealed that the municipal court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence on the grounds of warrantless entry.

The Fourth Amendment applies to unreasonable searches and seizures. It 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.

The city argued that the police were within their rights because of urgency, using the words "hot pursuit" to describe the scene of the arrest. After meticulous review, the appeals court ruled that urgency does not supersede the individual's constitutional rights.

On the night of the arrest, the officers administered field sobriety tests after forced entry into the suspect's residence. Although the suspect's blood alcohol content measured more than twice the legal limit, this evidence should have been suppressed/thrown out because it was obtained illegally.

This case goes to show how powerful the constitutional rights of the individual are. If you were arrested for DUI/OVI, your attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress the evidence on similar grounds. Evidence cannot be considered in the court of law that was obtained illegally.