Legal Edge: How to defend against unreasonable searches and seizures

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – In 2016, a woman was stopped for suspected drunk driving and officers found an open container of alcohol, and confirmed she was under the influence. Recently, a Michigan Supreme Court Judge ruled that the evidence found in the search was inadmissible as the search violated her constitutional rights.

Local lawyer Bryan Waldman explains.

“The government has an interest in balancing its obligation to enforce the rules with protecting individual rights,” said Waldman.

For a search to be constitutional, the police must have reasonable suspicion to detain smeone.

They’re essentially seizing the people who are occupants of the vehicle when they stop, said Waldman.

To determine if there was reasonable suspicion, you must look at the facts of the case, he said.

In this case, the original caller was anonymous. The caller said they believed another driver was drunk because they were yelling at their kids and “being obnoxious.”

The courts said this is not enough.

The officer watched the car and found no suspicious activity and pulled the driver over based on the anonymous tip.

“Yelling at your kids and being obnoxious is not indicative of being drunk,” said Waldman.

However, if the report said the person was swerving or driving erratically, the police would have had a valid reason to pull them over.

“No one should be discouraged by this opinion. You should still call in if you think there’s a dangerous situation going on,” said Waldman.

Giving an anonymous tip is allowed, but leaving your name adds more merit to the complaint.

Giving the police as much information about a complaint as you can will also help them ghain reasonable suspicion, said Waldman.

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