You’re driving home from a night out with friends at a brewery when suddenly blue and red lights appear in your rear view mirror and a booming voice tells you to pull your car over to the side of the road. The officer who approaches your window mentions that he saw you swerving in your lane a fair amount and asks you if you’ve had anything to drink that evening. Upon answering truthfully and admitting you had, the officer proceeds to have you perform a few simple actions. Upon seeing you complete them with no issues, the officer wishes you a good evening and allows you to continue on your way.
Despite the fact that you had admitted to the officer that you were had consumed alcohol earlier and were now operating the vehicle, they allowed you to go on your way. Why is that? The answer: the officer did not have probable cause to detain you or place you under arrest.
If you were out celebrating this Cinco de Mayo, you may come across this same scenario. If you were charged with a drunk driving offense, our firm is ready to hear from you.
What is Probable Cause?
Probable cause is defined as “a reasonable belief that a crime has been or is being committed.” This is an important concept to understand because if you are ever accused of driving while under the influence or are arrested for doing so, an officer must have probable cause in order for the state to convict you. As such, probable cause can play a vitally important role in whether or not you receive criminal and administrative penalties.
Let’s go back to the example scenario above. The officer pulled you over because they suspected that you were operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and their justification was that they witnessed you swerving in your lane. Therefore, they had probable cause to pull you over.
However, once being pulled over, the officer noticed that there was no alcohol in the car, and that you passed the short sobriety tests without issue. Therefore, the officer was unable to establish further probable cause and therefore could not lawfully place you under arrest for driving under the influence.
How is probable cause important to your case?
If you are arrested for a DUI, the officer’s established probable cause could be what gets you out of your DUI charge. If your lawyer is able to determine that the officer did not have probable cause in pulling you over and making your arrest, they could potentially hurt the state’s case against you. This is just one of the mistakes police can make in a DUI case. Other issues that could work in your favor could include a poorly-written report, an improperly administered breath test, or improper procedures at a DUI checkpoint.
So when you are out celebrating this Cinco de Mayo, be sure to do so responsibly. Plan ahead and secure a ride home from a designated driver if you know you will be consuming alcohol. But most importantly, make sure you know your rights. If you find yourself faced with a DUI charge, contact a knowledgeable Pasadena DUI attorney and get your case evaluated.
Hutton & Wilson is a Pasadena DUI law firm with a long record of successful cases. Attorneys Richard A. Hutton and Robert J. Wilson have both received numerous awards and accolades for excellence in law practice. Both have served as chairs and members of numerous elite law panels and associations, and both are members of the Board of Governors of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.If you have been arrested and are facing charges for DUI, or you have questions about your legal rights, contact the elite our elite DUI advocates for a free initial case evaluation today.