"Probable cause" is a phrase you've probably heard thrown a lot in movies and television, but its importance in actual criminal cases cannot be overstated. Essentially, probable cause is the legal concept that allows police officers to stop and search citizens when there is observable evidence that a crime has occurred, is about to occur, or is being perpetrated. Even in drunk driving cases, probable cause can mean the difference between a conviction and dismissing the case against the accused.
Probable Cause in DUI Cases
When it comes to DUI cases, probable cause means that officers on the road need to witness (or otherwise detect) verifiable signs that a driver may be intoxicated. This can happen while observing the driver operate their vehicle or during a stop that was initiated for another reason (such as speeding or a broken taillight).
Examples of probable cause in drunk driving cases include:
- Swerving, drifting, or other erratic driving maneuvers
- Slurring speech
- Witnessing an intoxicated individual get into their vehicle
- The scent of alcohol
- The presence of an open container
- The performance in a roadside sobriety test
When There Is No Probable Cause
It's important to remember that just because an officer believes he or she has probable cause does not mean a crime has been committed. However, when these officers proceed to detain or search an individual without probable cause, then that's individual's constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure have been violated. In most cases, this can mean that the case against the accused will be dismissed.
Recognizing and asserting probable cause issues in DUI cases, however, can be difficult and it takes legal counsel with substantial experience in this practice area to know when their client's rights have been violated. At Dichter Law Office, PLLC, I have dedicated my entire practice to DUI defense and continually stay engaged with the latest laws and dilemmas inherent to this practice area. If you believe that your DUI charge was the result of a probable cause violation, then I invite you to contact my offices now.
Start exploring your defense options with a capable Lynnwood DUI defense attorney ready to assert your rights. Fill out this online form to request a consultation with me today.