In order for a police officer to legally pull you over for suspicion of a DUI or DWI, he or she must have probable cause. In legal terms, probable cause means that an officer needs to have enough reliable information and evidence to support a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime or is about to commit a crime. In this blog, our Kansas City DUI lawyer explains what you should know about probable cause and how that pertains to DUIs and DWIs.
Bad Behavior Can Add to Probable Cause
It’s the officer’s first observations regarding your driving habits and behavior that initially triggers probable cause. But it’s important to remember, however, that the officer’s observations don’t end when you’re pulled over. Any interaction that occurs between you and the officer will be gathered, perhaps for probable cause for additional violations. For example, if you’re pulled over for running a red light, but the officer can smell alcohol coming from your car, that may be enough probable cause to arrest and charge you with a DUI.
Probable Cause Does Not Cover Pretext Stops
Although police can pull you over for basic traffic infractions such as speeding or running a stop sign, officers cannot use these traffic stops as an opportunity to launch into investigations for a bigger offense. Unless police have enough probable cause to suspect that there are weapons in the trunk of a car, for example, police cannot simply search a car that is pulled over for a routine violation like running a red light.
No probable cause? You Can Fight It
If you find that the officer truly had no probable cause to pull you over, let alone place you under arrest, you can bring forward a motion to suppress, which can throw out your entire case. Under these circumstances, you’ll want a highly skilled DUI or DWI on your side – in these types of cases, it’s your word against the officers, which can be difficult to prove.