When you take to the road and drive a vehicle, you are also agreeing to what is known as implied consent. Just by operating that vehicle, you are providing law enforcement with the ability to make a lawful stop and investigate what they find when they do so. That doesn't mean, however, that there are no rules about how the stop, search, and sobriety testing is carried out. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), everything about the situation should be examined for legal errors that might lead to your charges being dropped or at least reduced. Read on and find out more.
Probable Cause for the Stop
The first issue to be examined should be the reason for the stop. If the stop was not legal, everything that happened afterward is irrelevant. You can only be stopped for certain reasons, and the officer lighting you up has to provide a reason. The reason, or probable cause, might be unrelated to drunk driving, but that doesn't make it an illegal stop. Reasons for stopping drivers can vary:
- Your vehicle closely matches the description of another vehicle they are on the lookout for.
- Your vehicle has malfunctioning lights or other equipment issues.
- You are observed swerving, driving too slow, sitting too long at green lights or stop signs, etc. These can be signs of an impaired driver.
- You are seen breaking road rules. That can include speeding, not coming to a full stop when indicated, failing to signal a turn or a lane change, etc.
Probable Cause for Suspicion of Impaired Driving
Once the stop is made, law enforcement officers must have a reason to carry out alcohol testing. If you are asked to perform roadside sobriety tests and refuse to do so, the way it is handled depends on where you live. In most places, you can be arrested or lose your driving license for a refusal. If the officer smells alcohol or suspects you are driving while intoxicated, you may be asked to perform a variety of field exercises along with blowing into a portable breathalyzer. In certain cases, probable cause might exist for a warrant to have your blood and/or urine tested for the presence of alcohol or other substances.
All field sobriety tests, breathalyzer testing, and medical tests are subject to strict guidelines. The officer administering the tests must be certified, the equipment must be properly calibrated, and the subject must not be suffering from physical or neurological conditions that would affect the accuracy of the tests. If you have been arrested for DUI, you will need the services of a criminal defense lawyer who practices DUI law. Speak to a DUI lawyer today.