In April, the Supreme Court determined in Navarette v. California that an anonymous tip to 911 was sufficient to justify a vehicle search by police. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the majority of his colleagues had rendered a “freedom-destroying” judgment. But Polish researchers at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw have developed a technology that may be an even bigger risk to Fourth Amendment rights. According to the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, researchers have created lasers that detect alcohol in passing vehicles. It’s similar to the remote-sensing technology used to identify explosive and hazardous materials at a distance.
Basically the police will be able to aim a laser through your windows, measure the reflected light, and determine how much of that light is being absorbed by alcohol vapors. It allows police to determine how much alcohol is in your vehicle, in the air in your vehicle, and in you. When a camera catches you running a light, you are sent a citation in the mail, but laser detection of alcohol in vehicles will allow a rapid response. A camera connected to the laser device can photograph your car and send it directly to the nearest officer on patrol, who can then stop you and administer a breathalyzer exam. Researchers admit that having your windows down or air conditioning on can skew the results provided by the technology.
Courts may eventually decide if this technology will be introduced in the United States, but let’s hope it never reaches that point. Under the Constitution, police officers need reasonable suspicion that a driver is drunk before they can stop a vehicle for DUI suspicion. Does the information provided by the laser technology give police officers reasonable suspicion that a vehicle’s driver is drunk? Not really. Alcohol simply being “in” a car can come from a number of sources including other passengers and previous spills.
If you are stopped for any reason and charged with DUI in southern California, get help right away from an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney. A good DUI defense lawyer can determine if your rights were violated by the police; if they were, the charge can probably be dismissed. If you’re dealing with any DUI charge, now or in the future, protect yourself and your rights; talk promptly to an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney.