Alabama's 'Arrest at the Scene' Requirement

Patrick Mahaney

Case Conclusion Date:May 18, 2010

Practice Area:DUI / DWI

Outcome:DUI Case Dismissed

Description:Defendant was arrested at the residence of his cousin, after being involved in a one-vehicle, run off the roadway type accident. The initial responding officer, an Elmore County deputy sheriff, tracked the defendant's vehicle from the scene of the collision to the cousin's house, about a mile and half away from the scene. The deputy ordered the defendant out of the house, hand-cuffed the defendant, and called the Department of Public Safety state trooper to the residence, where the defendant was then handed over to the investigating trooper. A subsequent breath test taken by the defendant resulted in a .18% BAC. As his attorney, I filed a Motion to Supress based on illegal entry into a residence under the Steagald v. U.S. line of cases, as well as the procedural requirement under Alabama law, found in Code of Alabama, 1975, section 32-5-171, that an arrest for DUI at the scene of the accident must actually take place "at the scene of the accident." After argument by both defense counsel and the prosecutor, district court Judge Goggans granted the defense motion and dismissed the case in favor of the defendant.

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