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Good People Do Get Arrested

DUI arrests must have reasonable suspicion and probable cause

| Jun 17, 2019 | Firm News

Many people who receive DUI charges in the Fort Myers area believe they have few or limited defense options to help overcome their situations. Several factors unknown by the public can affect the outcome of drunk driving or driving while under the influence charges, like probable cause and reasonable suspicion. If you find yourself facing similar charges, you have nothing to lose by fighting them. A proper defense can uncover issues that may invalidate your arrest and require the courts to drop the charges against you.

DUI traffic stops are one of the most common methods law enforcement uses to apprehend DUI offenders. Unfortunately, by casting a wide net, they also end up charging many innocent people erroneously. The constitution offers several protections against unlawful arrests and criminal charges; a couple of them involve whether the detaining officer(s) had probable cause or reasonable suspicion to begin with.

What is probable cause?

The law requires officers to have valid suspicions before they can legally detain/arrest potentially intoxicated motorists. To substantiate their suspicions, law enforcement personnel often relies on field sobriety and blood alcohol content testing. They may also use evidence obtained during a lawful vehicle search. They do not necessarily have to go through the contents of a person’s car or SUV. If they see open alcoholic beverage containers or narcotic paraphernalia, their suspicions are no longer invalid and are enough to meet the burden of probable cause.

What is reasonable suspicion?

Illegal arrests and false charges are a growing problem all across the country. To prevent innocent people from becoming wrongfully accused criminals, the law requires officers to have reasonable suspicion before apprehending potential offenders. It is not enough for law enforcement to make arrests based on their beliefs or personal theories. Their actions must have valid elements to support suspicions to begin with. For example, a traffic stop alone cannot lead to DUI charges unless the officer had reasonable suspicion, i.e., erratic driving behavior, smelling alcohol on the detainee’s breath during the stop or the motorist admitting to consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel or exhibiting visual signs of potential intoxication.

The law is not black and white, and there are exceptions for reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Poking holes in a DUI case with a reasonable suspicion and probable defense is not easy without the assistance of an experienced DUI or criminal defense attorney.