Police can now enter homes of DUI suspects without a warrant.(AP) SAN FRANCISCO 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.
The 6-1 decision follows similar rulings in about a dozen other states. A dissenting justice said the majority handed authorities a "free pass" to unlawfully enter private homes and arrest people without warrants.
Under the Fourth Amendment, authorities are prohibited from entering a home and making an arrest without a warrant unless so-called "exigent" circumstances are present. Those include "hot pursuit" of a fleeing felon, imminent destruction of evidence and the risk of danger to the police or other persons inside or outside of a house, among others.
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."
Baxter and the majority was cautious in saying the decision would not give police carte blanche powers.
"In holding that exigent circumstances justified the warrantless entry here, we need not decide, and do not hold, that the police may enter a home without a warrant to effect an arrest of a DUI suspect in every case," Baxter wrote.
So they want to bust into someone's home to give them a breathalyzer test? So much for relaxing at home with a few beers, or tying one on at home at a party. The right to get drunk, or even a little drunk is a right, no matter how unclassy or gauche it might seem to some people. I'm sure superior court judges are quite good at enjoying that right themselves.
Via Hit and Run.