How the Community Caretaker Doctrine Impacts Your DUI Case

How the Community Caretaker Doctrine Impacts Your DUI Case

You may have read that a standard of reasonable suspicion is needed for a suspect to be detained without a warrant. While that is true, your Orange County DUI lawyer knows that many rules have exceptions under the law.

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One exception to the reasonable suspicion standard is that a police officer can be regarded as a community caretaker to justify an arrest. In effect, the police can come to the aid of someone at risk.

Case in Point: Parked and Asleep

A Montana case shows the doctrine of community caretaker at work. In this case, a driver had pulled over to the side of the road; an officer found him asleep at the wheel of the parked car. The engine was running and the lights off. This attracted the concern of the police officer, who tapped on the driver’s side window. When the suspect didn’t wake up, the officer opened the door and found the driver intoxicated.

Was this a lawful intrusion? The Montana Supreme Court said yes. The officer was acting as a community caretaker for a distressed citizen.  To justify the doctrine, the officer could point to facts suggesting that the person was in need of help or possibly in danger. Stopping to investigate was warranted. If the person had been in peril and in need of aid, the officer could take appropriate action. The point at which the community caretaker role runs out is when the citizen is no longer in need of help. Actions by police after that time represent an unlawful seizure protected by the Fourth Amendment, as well as several state laws.

A DUI case may seem straightforward, but there are many finer points of law that can make or break your case. However, you can prepare yourself. If you enlist the services of an Orange County DUI lawyer, he or she will explain your rights and help you through the process. For experienced and knowledgeable local representation, call the Law Offices of the Law Office of Mike Coffey Attorney at Law& the Law Office of Mike Coffey Attorney at Lawat (800) 706-7888 for a free no-obligation consultation today.