Know Your Rights For Suppressing Evidence In An OVI Case

When an individual is arrested for OVI, every piece of evidence is not necessarily legal. There is a process an officer must follow when performing the arrest. If the process is not followed, the defendant may file a motion in court to have parts or all of the evidence applied against them suppressed. If this motion is successful, the illegally obtained evidence is not admissible in court and cannot be used to support a conviction. However, to be successful in this process, you need to prove that something improper did occur.

Probable Cause

For example, an officer cannot simply say that the man in the blue shirt looks like he is operating a vehicle under the influence. Instead, the officer must state that the person seems guilty because they are swerving between lanes or performing other dangerous actions. 

The concerning actions of the driver would then serve as probable cause. Probable cause must be displayed for an officer to pull a driver over. For this reason, if an officer pulls a person over without probable cause and moves forward with the OVI arrest, the arrest can be contested, and any evidence collected can be suppressed due to a lack of probable cause. 

Absence of Consent

A defendant may also have a valid claim to suppress evidence if the officer did not have consent to search their vehicle. When an officer with probable cause pulls someone over because they suspect OVI, they do not have the automatic right to search the vehicle for evidence to support the claim.

The officer must obtain a warrant, and if they cannot do so, they must obtain consent from the driver to search the vehicle. If an officer searches a vehicle without a warrant or consent, any evidence collected can be suppressed and dismissed. 

Legal Process

Beyond the search, there are additional protocols that an arresting officer must follow as part of the process, especially when testing a driver's impairment level. 

For example, suppose the officer administers a field sobriety test but does not complete all the test points, uses their own standard for interpreting results instead of the mandated scale, or does anything else that deviates from the instructions. In that case, the test can be considered invalid and then can be suppressed. Only results from a properly administered test are deemed valid and can be used as evidence. 

If you were arrested for OVI and have concerns about the validity of the evidence presented against you, make sure you speak with an OVI attorney as soon as possible.