Police officers were called to the scene of a car accident at the corner of Connecticut and West Beach Streets. Two cars were involved in the mishap: a Chevrolet with damage to its front bumper and a Volkswagen with damage to its rear bumper.
The Long Island police officers asked for the licence and registration of both drivers. As the police officers were speaking with the drivers, they noticed that the driver of the Chevrolet did not smell of alcohol but his speech was slurred and he did not walk straight. The officers asked the driver of the Chevrolet to walk on a line on the side of the road but the man walked in a zigzag pattern instead.
The police officers arrested the driver of the Chevrolet and brought him to police headquarters for an alcohol breath test. AT the precinct, the breath analyzer test showed that the driver’s blood alcohol level was only 0.03. The friends of the driver who were also passengers in the car came to the police station and informed police that the driver spoke with a slight slurring and his gait was naturally uneven. They assured the police that their friend was not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
In the meantime, the police were going to place the Chevrolet in the impounding area. The arresting officers were inspecting the car and making an inventory of the contents of the car before turning it over to the impound area. They noticed a brown envelope in the rear which they took. As they were taking it out of the car, its contents spilled onto the pavement. There was a gun and there was also a driver’s licence that had the same picture of the driver of the Chevrolet but the licence had a different name.
The police continued with the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. The accused Manhattan driver of the Chevrolet asked the court to suppress the evidence of the gun and the driver’s licence which were found in the car. The trial court denied the motion which the driver of the Chevrolet appealed.
The Court held that there were two essential questions that had to be answered: the first is if there was probable cause to arrest the driver of the Chevrolet; the second question is whether or not the car was properly impounded.
The Court held that the Chevrolet was obstructing traffic when it was stalled in the middle of the road after it had collided with the Volkswagen which was in front of the Chevrolet. Second, the police officers directly observed the actions of the driver and concluded that the man was probably under the influence of alcohol or drugs because his speech was slurred and he could not walk a straight line. There was then probable cause for the police officers to suspect that the accused had committed a crime.
When the driver of the Chevrolet was arrested, he surrendered his keys to his passenger and friend who did not know how to drive and who did not have a driver’s licence. The police then were duty bound to remove the car from the roadway where it was obstructing traffic. They also had the obligation to make a detailed list of items found in the car. When they conducted the inventory of the contents of the car, that was when the gun and the driver’s licence were discovered.
Was the search and confiscation of the gun and the driver’s licence lawful? No, the Court held that it was a warrantless search. The car was not searched at the same time as the arrest. It was searched almost two hours after the arrest. The search was also conducted when the driver was already in custody of the police. The police raised the issue that the inventory was conducted after lawyer impounding even if the search was warrantless. The question then of whether or not the car was lawfully impounded must be determined by a jury as an issue of material fact.
Are you like the man in this case who was found to have been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Were you involved in a car accident because you were driving under the influence of alcohol? You need to retain the services of a Nassau Car Accident Lawyer. A Nassau Car Accident attorney can help give you an idea of what sort of defences are available to you. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, their Nassau Car Accident Lawyers are ready and willing to sit and go over the facts of your case. The Nassau Car Accident attorneys from Stephen Bilkis and Associates can help present the facts and argue evidence in your behalf. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today.