Probable Cause in DUI Cases

Phoenix Lawyer for Drunk Driving Charges

When pulling over a person suspected of driving under the influence, police officers must conduct the traffic stop in accordance with the Constitution. To justify the traffic stop, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation has been or is being committed. If the police then seek to arrest the driver, they must have probable cause to believe that the driver operated the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a drug. When a police officer cannot articulate the facts that support a traffic stop, a criminal defense attorney may be able to suppress evidence obtained during the traffic stop and arrest, which may convince the prosecutor to dismiss the case or provide a more favorable plea bargain. If you were arrested for drunk driving, you can consult with a seasoned Phoenix DUI attorney at the Law Office of James E. Novak. He can review your circumstances to determine whether the police conducted your traffic stop legally, and whether they will be able to demonstrate probable cause in your DUI case.

Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The Arizona Constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures. In general, a traffic stop for drunk driving is reasonable if a police officer has reasonable suspicion for believing that a driver is intoxicated. The suspicion needs to be more than a mere hunch and must be supported with articulable facts and circumstances.

If an officer observes any signs of intoxication during the stop, the officer will likely to keep you on the scene to determine whether probable cause exists to arrest you for drunk driving. Signs of drunk driving may include bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, an open case or bottle of alcohol in the car, slurred or delayed speech, or incoherent speech. The officer may also check your identification to see if you have any outstanding warrants. An officer may also ask questions that are not related to the stop, such as inquiring as to the destination and purpose of the trip, so long as the duration of the stop is not clearly extended.

During the traffic stop, the officer may also administer field sobriety tests to the driver. If the driver does not pass these tests, the officer may have enough probable cause for an arrest. The officer may also ask the driver to consent to a blood, breath or urine test to determine alcohol concentration or drug content. If the driver declines, the officer must obtain a warrant to administer the test.

Probable Cause in DUI Cases

Probable cause to arrest exists where reasonably trustworthy information and circumstances would result in a person of reasonable caution believing a suspect had perpetrated an offense. In the context of drunk driving, an officer has probable cause if he can show there is a probability of impairment. The fact that some contradictory evidence exists does not control whether or not there was probable cause to arrest.

In a DUI defense case, you will focus on the facts and circumstances of the matter, including whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion for initiating the traffic stop and probable cause for the subsequent arrest. If you can demonstrate that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest or draw blood, it may be possible to suppress the evidence seized due to the arrest. The exclusionary rule mandates that evidence be suppressed at trial if that evidence was directly or indirectly gained because the police violated your constitutional rights. Like other crimes, drunk driving must be established beyond a reasonable doubt, so successfully suppressing some of the evidence against you may result in a dismissal of the charges or convince the prosecutor to be more amenable to a plea bargain. Retain an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Phoenix

Prosecutors take drunk driving seriously in Arizona. A conviction can result in harsh penalties. However, every situation and arrest is different. If you do not believe that the officer had probable cause for arrest in your DUI case, you can talk to a seasoned defense lawyer about your situation. Mr. Novak defends those suspected of drunk driving in the Phoenix area including in Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact him through our online form.

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