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Probable cause is a grey area when applied to DUI

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2020 | Drunk Driving Charges |

Sometimes it seems that law enforcement pulls over drivers at random, but in theory, they should have probable cause to do it. In the case of an evening stop on a weekend, they will typically stop drivers who violated a traffic law and then check for signs of intoxication. Nevertheless, probable cause is a highly subjective premise for justifying the stop and may not stand up in court.

Common reasons for pulling over a driver

Before even conducting a breathalyzer test, they need a specific reason for pulling a driver over. Drivers provide it by doing one of the following:

  • Causing or being involved in a motor vehicle crash.
  • The driver violated the speed limit or committed some other traffic law infraction.
  • Erratic driving even if they did not speed or break a traffic law.

Checking for intoxication

Law enforcement is trained to check for the following to launch a further investigation, which can lead to arrest:

  • Smell of alcohol/marijuana: Officers will often claim to smell alcohol or marijuana on the driver’s breath or clothes.
  • Slurred speech: This is a common side effect of intoxication, but it also common for those who are tired and maybe a normal speech pattern.
  • Bloodshot eyes: Although the driver may suffer from allergies or fatigue, officers often cite bloodshot eyes as a premise, regardless of whether the driver is sober or not.

Charges may be dropped

Any officer can make a mistake, including jumping to the wrong conclusion when citing probable cause for the arrest. In cases like this, a criminal law attorney with experience handling DUIs here in Colorado can be a tremendous asset in defending the driver’s rights. Probable cause based on a hunch may not be enough for convicting a driver for driving under the influence and can even negate the use of subsequently gained evidence.

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