Unique solutions for every client

What constitutes probable cause in DUI cases?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | DUI

Tackling drunk driving is a key priority for law enforcement in Virginia. There are numerous reasons why this is the case, but it is largely to do with the number of fatal accidents that occur due to impaired driving. 

While increasing road safety is prioritized, this doesn’t mean police officers can act with impunity. Innocent citizens should not be targeted and there is no justification for prejudicial arrests. To pull you over, officers must have a reasonable suspicion that an offense has occurred. To file charges and make an arrest, probable cause is necessary. This is a higher standard of proof, but what exactly does it entail? 

A failed breathalyzer test 

To obtain your driver’s license in Virginia you hand over your implied consent in return. This means that you must take a breathalyzer test when asked to do so. Law enforcement considers a failed breathalyzer test to be compelling evidence that amounts to probable cause. Nonetheless, the technology is not infallible and a failed breathalyzer test does not mean automatic guilt. 

Alarming behaviors 

If a person is pulled over and the officers smell alcohol fumes or spot empty bottles of liquor through the car window, this could also constitute probable cause. When stopped, you may also be asked to engage in field sobriety tests. Such tests are designed to assess your responsiveness and coordination. If you fail the field sobriety tests, this may also amount to probable cause and you could be arrested. However, these tests are subjective and there may be other reasons for poor performance other than impairment. 

A DUI conviction can change your life in numerous ways. That’s why it’s so important to seek legal guidance and mount a suitable defense strategy.