State v. McCave Shows Fort Lauderdale Police Can Be Too Aggressive in DUI Cases

The Nebraska case of State v. McCave shows just how aggressive police can be when investigating a crime such as DUI.

Police must have what’s known as “probable cause” to make an arrest in any situation. But sometimes officers are so driven to make an arrest, they don’t consider the consequences of making an arrest without having proper evidence.
DUI in Fort Lauderdale is one of the areas in which police sometimes throw smart judgment to the wind. Granted, most officers aren’t trained as lawyers, so they may not know the latest court rulings or local rules that could affect cases. But they should be using common sense.

And when they don’t, Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyers will show them the way. We have been defending clients for years who have had their rights violated by overzealous cops and even those who are a bit on the naive side.

This case may have had a little of both.

Jeffrey McCave was sitting in his car in the driveway of his father’s house when the father told him to leave. McCave refused and the police showed up.

When they got there, they decided to arrest him for DUI, refusing to submit a breath test, trespassing and possession of an open container.

He was later convicted of the charges, but at least the Supreme Court had some common sense here. The convictions of DUI, refusing to submit and possession of an open container were all reversed and the convictions and sentences were vacated.

The court ruled that police had no probable cause to arrest him on those charges and the trial court should have granted a motion to suppress the evidence from the arrest. As for the trespassing charge, the state’s high court granted a new trial, saying that the trial court judge should have excluded evidence that was relevant to the trespassing charge.

Simply sitting in a vehicle isn’t grounds for a DUI investigation to commence. The “D” in DUI is driving, so sitting in a parked car isn’t driving. And when police arrived, they were there simply on a call that a person was trespassing, not that someone was driving while intoxicated.

This is an example of police abusing their power and taking things a little too far. Maybe they didn’t want to fill out paperwork for a simple misdemeanor trespassing arrest or maybe their bosses have said to cut down on making arrests because of overcrowding or manpower issues on the force. Whatever the reason, it’s unfair to trump up charges because of policy changes.

Police officers must realize the consequences of their actions. They are affecting people’s lives and possibly ruining their lives by making the decision to arrest. A DUI arrest can cause job loss, loss of reputation and other effects aside from what the criminal justice system can deliver.

The only way to reconcile this is by fighting the charges aggressively and seeking a conviction. That’s the only clear way to prove you’re innocent once you’ve been arrested in Fort Lauderdale.

If you are arrested in West Palm Beach or elsewhere in South Florida, contact Leifert & Leifert at 954-523-9600 or 561-988-8000 for a free consultation.

More Blog Entries:

Florida DUI Law Challenged in Southwest Florida, Could Impact West Palm Beach Cases: October 12, 2011
Florida DUI Penalties Can Be Stiff; Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney is Key: May 16, 2011

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