Stop Him! He's Relaxing at Home!


The California Supreme Court remakes DUI law with a landslide 6-1 decision.

Police may enter Californians' homes without warrants to arrest those suspected of driving under the influence, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a case testing the scope of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

In this case, Justice Marvin Baxter wrote that the loss of evidence at issue was obtaining a measurement of the suspect's blood-alcohol level. Baxter added that a contrary ruling would allow "the corruption of evidence that occurs when the suspect takes advantage of any delay to ingest more alcohol—or to claim to have done so—or when the suspect evades police capture until he or she is no longer intoxicated."

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  1. The fields, they’re covered in blood!

  2. Um, it’s well-settled law that police may pursue a suspect who committed a crime in plain view into a private residence without a warrant, especially when the suspect is actively attempting to evade capture. Why should DUI be different?

    If probable cause is later found to be lacking to make the arrest in the first place, then the exclusionary rule and poisonous tree doctrine would still apply.

  3. If a suspect is able to evade police until sober, how drunk/dangerous could they have been?

  4. I think the real concern is how far this ruling can be stretched. If some driver runs a stop sign, and is only caught by camera, can that person be ticked long after they’ve arrived at home?

    Remeber the “brickbat” in last month’s issue of reason where the British guy was give a ticket at home after flipping the bird to a security camera.

    Thank Jebus I live in Pittsburgh, where there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement of the law to speak of.

  5. KipEsquire,

    The court doesn’t seem to agree with you on that; rather than using the exception for hot pursuit to justify warrantless searches, it relied on the evidence destruction exception. Not having read the opinion, I suspect the court was dealing with cases where someone called a DUI tip line with a plate number, or something like that.

    Which wouldn’t be quite as scary if the article hadn’t mentioned that dozens of state supreme courts have ruled similarly.

  6. Thank Jebus I live in Pittsburgh

    Think carefully about what you just said.

  7. other Mark,

    Yes, I am very sorry. It’s not even funny to joke about such a thing.

    See what happens when one posts before morning coffee?

  8. Kip, check out the comments section in the CBS13 article…

    This one answers your question…

    “I have no problem with the ruling if it involves hot pursuit or they locate a car they lost during hot pursuit that they can identify by some unique marker such as a license plate number, or dent but not routine color, model, or location. But anything else is a violation of federal constitutional rights regardless of the California supreme court ruling. But I have a problem if a neighbor sees a person come home seemingly under the influence and calls the police or uses the police to harass someone they do not like. If I drink at home (I do not use alcohol personally) and my neighbor calls and says they saw me come home even though I did not leave. Do the cops come out and barge in and arrest me based on an allegation and no objective proof I was driving. What if someone sees me leave a restaurant and calls but the cops arrive and find me drinking at home. How do they prove me guilty of drinking and driving after they have barged into my home while I was consuming alcohol? How do they prove when I crossed the line? This is a very dangerous ruling that allows citizens more than cops to manipulate the law for possible personal vendetta reasons than prevent to drunk driving.” – Bob Poindexter

  9. Too bad The Kenedy County Sheriff’s Department didn’t have this kind of power.

  10. *Additional obligatory Kennedy Family joke here*

  11. U aren’t counting my Kenedy joke as a Kennedy joke I hope.

  12. I see Mr poindexter already made this point.

    Not having read the opinion, I suspect the court was dealing with cases where someone called a DUI tip line with a plate number, or something like that.

    In the full article that was the case, the guy’s neighbor called in a DUI tip. Despite the justice’s assurance that this ruling doesn’t give police carte blanche, doesn’t this ruling make drinking at home a risky venture, especially if you have nosy or vindictive neighbors? How do you prove that you weren’t driving?

    In a more likely scenario, Suppose you get dropped off drunk & make a racket stumbling up the stairs. Your neighbor hears a car pull in, hears your dunken idiocy, assumes you were driving and call the police.

    As a guy who once had a false DUI tip called in on him(I got pulled over leaving my work parking lot when I was 18), I can tell you it’s no picnic. I was lucky in that I was still wearing my work uniform and that the cop was a reasonable man.

  13. Kip,

    Only for a felony, at least in Michigan. Curtiss v. City of Bay City (MI Sup. Court, 2003) found that the police may not follow a suspect into a private residence without a warrant if the suspected crime is a misdemeanor (underage drinking, in this case). This actually happened at my college recently, and the 30-plus MIPs the police handed out at a house party were all thrown out of court.


  14. That quote seems to be the entire story from the link. Too bad they didn’t put a little meat on the bones so us plebes could follow. Would have been nice to know the circumstances leading up to this seemingly incoherent ruling.

  15. Thanks to the power of the Internets, I’ve discovered that Dave W’s comment isn’t an obtuse jab at a Democratic icon, it’s actually a obtuse jab at a Republican icon.

    Good one Dave W, good one.

  16. No, this is not a hot pursuit case. It’s a “if we wait he may drink enough at his house to make it hard to book him for the DWI we have no evidence of other than a pissed-off neighbor’s tip” case. This really is a rather glaring extension of what one lawyer calls the “DWI/DUI exception” to the Constitution. It is amazing to think how far we have gone toward gutting the 4th Amendment in my lifetime, based mainly on a desire to keep people from inbibing or inhaling the “wrong” substances.

  17. Or “imbibing.” Goddam, drunk at work again.

  18. One would think that time lapse would kill the viability of this new violation of what little is left of the 4th amendment.

    Imagine I drive home from a bar. Imagine I also keep a bottle of hard liquor next to my seat as I watch tv. If the cops illegally/legally enter my home and send me through the whole touch your nose drill etc., and then finally give me a breathalyzer, just how long of a lapse is it reasonable to say any such evidence is not tainted because of the speed at which hard liquor can get you seriously intoxicated? Not very long at all folks, as in a few minutes long.

    Not only is this CA law unconstitutional, it is stupid in practical terms too.

  19. Thank Jebus I live in Pittsburgh, where there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement of the law to speak of.

    Only city in the country where the cops can put two checkpoints at the end of the biggest club neighborhood and end up with no DUIs, but nine black guys get arrested.

  20. This is scary business. As I would have expected, many posts have already laid out scenarios where this ruling will be abused. The CA Courts are so wrong on this one, I am stunned to silence.
    Thankfully, people can still get out of semi-facist states like CA and NY…just stay the fuck out of Oregon.

  21. Thankfully, people can still get out of semi-facist states like CA and NY…just stay the fuck out of Oregon.

    From the article: ” The 6-1 decision follows similar rulings in about a dozen other states. ”

    Better avoid the other 10 states too.

  22. Quick! Everybody call in 20 people a day! That’ll get the law abolished in no time.

  23. Is the government actually entitled to compel a blood, breath, or urine test from someone who was alleged to be driving, if they don’t actually catch him behind the wheel?

    Generally, the “no warrant” situations involve direct pursuit or apprehension, and usually with the suspect still in his or her vehicle. If the police actually saw someone jump out of the car at the end of a chase, and dash into his or her home, then they would probably not need a warrant to pursue into the home. But in the Thompson case, the police were responding to hearsay, and they arrived on the scene some while after the offense allegedly occurred. In California, you agree to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test as a condition of obtaining and exercising the privilege to drive a vehicle upon the public roads. But this is generally understood to mean a test administered in the context of a traffic stop. There was no traffic stop here, and the Justices seem to be saying that because a vehicle code violation was at issue, and because evidence pertaining to prosecution of that violation was in danger of being lost, the warrantless invasion of the defendant’s home and the subsequent arrest, were “reasonable” for 4th Amendment purposes. Also, that the administration of the alcohol test was covered by the “prior consent” provisions of the vehicle code.

    Did I get it right? If so, it all sounds bogus to me.

    To raise another issue: Doesn’t seizing bodily products from the body get awfully close to compelling someone to testify against himself? There is a lot of talk about the 4th Amendment in this case, but what about the 5th? As a driver in California, are you required (do you consent) to submit to the test indefinitely after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle? Does the “privilege” of driving trump the 5th Amendment?

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