A number of U.S. states recognize a Fourth Amendment exception known as the community caretaker doctrine. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures without a valid warrant. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized six major exceptions to the Fourth Amendment and the community caretaker doctrine expounds on the “exigent circumstances” exception to the Fourth Amendment, allowing for warrantless searches in light of an extreme situation in which pursuing a search warrant would prove dangerous or futile.
The community caretaker doctrine allows for police to take action in any situation where a reasonable officer would perceive the need to act for the public good or in order to come to the aid of a citizen in peril. The exception actually differs from the exigent circumstances exception in that it is based in a different legal premise: public protection. Whereas the exigent circumstances exception is based in the need to apprehend criminals currently engaged in unlawful activity, police are free to act under the community caretaker doctrine even the in absence of criminal activity. Exceptions to the Fourth Amendment are usually not defendant-friendly and most states have issued limits on the doctrine. For instance, a DUI conviction was reversed after a Texas trooper came upon a vehicle on the shoulder of the road after he saw a woman vomiting from the passenger side door. As the trooper pulled behind the stopped vehicle, the driver proceeded to pull away from the shoulder and was eventually stopped again and arrested for driving under the influence. The court held that the stop was unwarranted and further opined that the nature of the stress, the location of the individual, the availability of assistance for the sick woman, and the extent of potential danger absent police intervention did not amount to the danger threshold necessary to trigger the community caretaker doctrine. An experienced Milwaukee DUI lawyer can help you with your recent DUI arrest. If your situation involves similar facts to those outlined above, an argument against the community caretaker doctrine may be effective for your case. Contact us today for a free evaluation.
Top Rated Wisconsin DUI Defense Attorney Nathan J. Dineen. Available 24/7. Free Initial Consultation. Call 1-877-384-6800. www.duidefensewi.com
Nathan J. Dineen