You could face accusations of driving under the influence (DUI) because of several different situations. You could encounter a mass enforcement effort, face targeted traffic enforcement because of your driving habits or even cause a crash that leads to officers suspecting you of impairment.
Police officers can’t just search your vehicle, search your body or arrest you without reason. Your civil rights protect you from unreasonable searches and inappropriate arrests. Probable cause plays a crucial role in determining whether an officer can search someone or arrest them.
The role of probable cause during a traffic stop
Police officers can pull you over for many different issues, including seemingly random braking or swerving while driving. If they think you may have had something to drink, they will likely ask you that when they first speak with you.
The answers you give and the way that you behave might give them reason to think you could be under the influence. If an officer still suspects you after your initial conversation, they will likely ask you to exit the vehicle and perform a field sobriety test.
Your performance on the test could serve as probable cause for the officer to request a chemical breath test. Essentially, the officer needs something beyond mere suspicion for them to perform a search of your body to detect the presence of alcohol. If you fail a field sobriety test or the chemical breath test, officers will arrest you. Probable cause will then play a role in the charges you might face.
The court needs to see probable cause to allow criminal charges
Officers may sometimes claim to have probable cause when what they really have is a guess based on profiling. The evidence collected during and after a traffic stop will play a major role in what charges someone faces.
There needs to be enough convincing evidence to meet the standard of probable cause for the courts. Failed breath tests, denied breath tests and people trying to flee so that they don’t undergo testing could all constitute probable cause in a DUI case. Learning more about the charges against you and how the courts operate can help you defend yourself against a possible DUI charge.