What Is Probable Cause for a DUI Stop?
In order to arrest someone for a DUI in the state of Pennsylvania, a law enforcement officer needs to have probable cause. Probable cause simply means that this individual has reasonable belief that a crime is being committed or has been committed. The officer has to be able to articulate clear reasons for this belief. There are three stages of probable cause associated with a DUI arrest and each stage requires further proof.
Reasonable suspicion is the first stage of probable cause. Since unreasonable search and seizure is prohibited by the constitution under your Fourth Amendment rights, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion to think that a crime has already taken place or is taking place before he or she can pull you over for a traffic stop.
Any traffic violation, however, could be the probable cause to pull you over. Secondly, the officer must have probable cause in order to initiate a DUI investigation. This might include slurred speech, glassy eyes, the smell of alcohol in the vehicle or on your breath, alcohol in the car, or disorientation.
This is usually sufficient enough in order to establish probable cause for that officer to ask more details about whether or not you were driving under the influence. In order to establish probable cause for arrest, the third stage requires things like a confession that you are drunk, a failure of voluntary breath test or failure of multiple field sobriety tests.
If at any point before, during or after your arrest, however, the officer is unable to articulate the reasons supporting his or her probable cause suspicion, you may have grounds to have your DUI charges reduced or thrown out entirely.
You need to be able to share the details of your arrest with your Erie, Pennsylvania defense attorney as soon as possible after the incident happens. Do not speak to the police until you have had an opportunity to consult directly with your attorney. This could be critical for helping you establish a strong defense strategy and protecting your rights now and into the future.