What does it mean if the Officer was a Community Caretaker?
When it comes to detaining a suspect without a warrant under suspicion of DUI, police officers are usually required to have an articulable and reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur. However, there is an exception to this doctrine, which your King County DUI attorney might explain to you, called the “community caretaker” doctrine.
This doctrine essentially codifies the legal concept of “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.” Under this doctrine, courts have often authorized the police to intervene in certain conflicts that involve distressed citizens.
For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Tim Dinan.
How Does this Pertain to DUI Cases?
Your King County DUI attorney can explain exactly whether and how this doctrine applies to your case. One commonly used example is a Montana case where the defendant was found asleep in his car on the side of the road with the engine running. A police officer knocked on the window, but this did not make the defendant wake up. The officer then opened the car door, and found that the defendant was heavily intoxicated.
The Montana Supreme Court ultimately held that the officer’s intrusion into the car was lawful under the community caretaker doctrine. The Montana court issued a test for deciding whether a case falls under the community caretaker exception:
1) If there are articulable, specific facts that would cause an experienced law enforcement officer to suspect that a citizen is in need of help or is in peril, that officer has a legal right to stop and investigate. 2) If the officer finds that the citizen is in need of assistance, the officer may lawfully take appropriate action to help the citizen, or eliminate the danger. 3) One the officer is assured that the citizen is no longer in danger, or the citizen has been assisted sufficiently, any actions taken by the officer beyond that constitute a seizure that must abide by the provisions of the Fourth Amendment as well as the Montana Constitution.
If you have questions about a DUI arrest and whether the officer was lawfully allowed to detain you, contact King County DUI attorney. We are eager to help.
For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Jack Duran.