A Criminal Attorney Explains Probable Cause

Filed in Articles, slider, Uncategorized by on November 8, 2016

Probable cause is a critical component of a DWI stop, arrest, and conviction. When a police offer suspects a person of drinking and driving, they must have probable cause to pull the driver of the vehicle over, as well as to arrest them. The following considers what probable cause is, how it applies to DWI cases, and how a lack of probable cause may affect your case.


Defining Probable Cause


Probable cause is defined by the Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School as a “reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed, or when evidence of the crime is present in the place to be searched. ”


The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads that police officers must have probable cause before they can conduct a search, make an arrest, or request a warrant.


When an Officer Can Pull You Over


An officer can only pull a vehicle over if they have cause to do so. They cannot pull you over because of your age, color of your skin, gender, or past criminal record. If you are swerving erratically or speeding, police may pull you over because they have probable cause to reasonably believe that a crime may have been committed. In other words, officers need a legally valid reason to pull you over.


When an Officer Can Search Your Vehicle or Arrest You


If you are pulled over and an officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, and may also ask to do a search of your vehicle. You have the right to say no to both of these. Further, the officer cannot legally search your vehicle unless they have probable cause to do so.


Probable cause in relation to a vehicle search means that the officer has a reasonable basis to believe that you have something illegal and incriminating within your vehicle. For example, if the officer sees an open bottle of alcohol on the passenger seat, that constitutes probable cause. An officer cannot search your vehicle just because they feel like you may have something.


Further, you cannot be arrested without probable cause. If you submit to a breathalyzer test and the results show that your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is above .08 percent or more, this is probable cause for arrest. Further, if you participate in a field sobriety test and fail, this is probable cause. Other examples of probable cause may include the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, lack of coordination, or other signs of intoxication.


What If I Am Stopped or Arrested Without Probable Cause?


You can visit Defense Attorney Dan Lazarine at his website, www.lazarinelaw.com.


This article is not intended as valid legal advice but only to remind you that it is a violation of your constitutional rights to be stopped or arrested without probable cause. If you can prove that an officer did not have probable cause to stop or arrest you, you may be able to have the charges against you dismissed. To prove a lack of probable cause, contact an experienced DWI and criminal defense attorney today.


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