Exclusion of Evidence

Excluding evidence based upon legal violations by law enforcement is the single most effective defense to a drunk driving charge.  A person can be factually guilty but if law enforcement violates a defendants rights during the investigation or arrest, crucial evidence needed to prove the prosecution’s case can and often times is excluded.  If it is declared inadmissible by a judge, that evidence is not available for the prosecution to use against the defendant.

Iowa’s exclusionary rule applies to all evidence obtained as a result of a constitutional violation or violation of specific rights guaranteed by the statutes passed by the Legislature.  In Operating While Intoxicated cases, constitutional violations most commonly occur because:
  1. The police did not have a legal justification to pull the person over in the first place; 
  2. The police arrest a driver without sufficient probable cause;
  3. Miranda rights are not correctly read at the right time; or
  4. Incorrect or misleading information is given to the person prior to submitting to breath, blood or urine testing.
Iowa also has specific legal requirements or legislatively created rights in addition to constitutional rights which if violated, may result in evidence being excluded.  They include:
  1. Right to call, consult, or see an attorney, family member, or both, prior to making a decision to take or refuse a test; 
  2. Mandatory implied consent advisory regarding license suspension consequences if person consents and fails a test versus refuses a test; or
  3. Right to an independent test at your own expense.
A violation of any of these or other specific constitutional or statutory rights can result in exclusion of evidence including the breath test results taken at the station.  It is important to ensure that an attorney representing a defendant on this type of case is well-versed on the numerous different ways that evidence may be excluded for legal violations.

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