Yes, North Carolina residents can now be arrested by rental cops for drunk driving.
The new development was handed down by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which agreed that rent-a-cops hired by local homeowners associations can apprehend drunk driving suspects. That ruling ignores the fact that those individuals are rarely trained to identify even drivers who are speeding – much less those who may have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. HOA cops are permitted to arrest alleged drunk drivers because they do not fall under the same jurisdictional restrictions that prevent traditional law enforcement officers from illegal search and seizure.
The decision was promulgated after judges considered the 2012 case of a Wilmington man who was stopped by an armed security guard near the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The rental cop worked for a contractor and was hired to prevent people from speeding. It bears notice that working as an armed security guard requires only four hours of classroom instruction and a single day on a gun range.
Attorneys in the case say that the defendant was intimidated into compliance by the armed security guard, whom he believed to be employed by the state. A lower-court judge agreed with that assertion, ruling that the rental cop should have been bound by the “reasonable suspicion” standard that prevents Fourth Amendment violations by state officers. Now, though, that ruling has been reversed, with appeals judges ruling that illegal search and seizure regulations do not apply to these contract security guards.
North Carolina drivers should be aware of this seminal ruling, which effectively allows poorly educated, armed individuals to avoid Fourth Amendment requirements and arrest vehicle operators for drunk driving. Defendants who have been arrested by these security guards may need assistance from a qualified criminal defense attorney, who can help them learn more about their legal rights in the wake of this new mandate.
Source: The Newspaper, “North Carolina Appeals Court Allows HOAs To Arrest For DUI” No author given, Dec. 24, 2013