Dollree Mapp and the exclusionary rule

Most drivers in Tennessee who are pulled over and charged with DUI have never heard of a woman known as Dollree Mapp, nor of the U.S. Supreme Court case that bears her name. Mapp v. Ohio is not as famous as other criminal cases like Miranda, but for a suspect in a DUI, the Mapp case may be vitally important.

When the police or Tennessee Highway Patrol stops you and performs field sobriety tests, a breath test or a blood test to determine if you are over the state’s 0.08 blood alcohol content limit and therefore presumed to be intoxicated, they are gathering evidence to use against you when you have been charged with a DUI.

Prosecutors are confidant when they bring a DUI case against an individual with strong evidence like a blood test showing intoxication. While a good DUI defense attorney will always challenge such evidence, if it was obtain properly and was performed correctly, it may be difficult to overcome.

However, if the police violated constitutional procedures in collecting the sample, it may be thrown out by the court. This is done by use of the exclusionary rule, and is applied to state and federal cases where law enforcement has violated the Fourth Amendment when obtaining their evidence.

And it was the case of Dollree Mapp that led to the U.S. Supreme Court case that imposed the exclusionary rule on state prosecutions, and made state law enforcement accountable by requiring adherence to the U.S. Constitution.

Next week we will examine how the exclusionary rule came in to being.

New York Times, “Dollree Mapp, Who Defied Police Search in Landmark Case, Is Dead,” William Yardley, Dec. 9, 2014

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