Probable Cause for a Los Angeles DUI Stop

  • September 4, 2017

    Police officers must have probable cause to pull anyone over in Los Angeles. There must be some sort of viable reason the officer is making the stop. The person driving must be doing something inappropriate or illegal, there must be witness to something that requires a stop, or there must be a report that this vehicle should be stopped. An officer may not pull someone over simply because they feel like pulling them over. It’s called probable cause, and it’s the law. Without a good reason to pull someone over, a DUI charge can be dropped since the officer did not follow protocol when making the stop.

    If you are pulled over and subsequently arrested and charged with a DUI, you want to be sure to obtain a copy of the police report to verify there is reasonable cause. Many DUI cases have gone to court only for the defense attorney to realize there was not probable cause listed on the police report. Even if you were under the influence while driving, a lack of probable cause is enough to have the charges dropped. The law is very specific, and people are often able to avoid conviction simply because a legal requirement was missed along the way.

    What constitutes probable cause?

    What’s interesting about a DUI case is most of them typically begin with an unrelated stop. This means the person who is arrested for a DUI wasn’t pulled over because the officer thought the driver was impaired.

    – There’s a problem with the car such as a flat tire, a tail light out, a head light out, or an expired tag on the back
    – The driver disobeyed the law by speeding, passing illegally, not stopping for a stop sign or red light, etc.
    – There is a traffic stop point

    There is not enough reasonable evidence for an officer to pull someone over if they only suspect that person is driving under the influence. For example, if an officer witnesses a person leaving a bar, it’s reasonable they suspect that person could be impaired. However, they cannot pull that person over until that person does something illegal and gives them probable cause to pull them over. If the impaired driver makes it all the way home without breaking so much as one traffic law, there is nothing the officer can do to pull them over.

    The DUI Aspect

    Most cases begin when someone is pulled over for some other reason, and then the DUI arrest is made. An officer might pull you over because your tag light is out, which is a violation. Of course, most officers know you can’t see your own tag light from the driver’s seat of the car when it’s running, and they know you rely on the kind help of others to let you know. If they pull you over for that, they might be able to arrest you for a DUI.

    They must smell alcohol on your breath, see an open container in the car, notice your eyes aren’t quite right, or witness you slurring your words or behaving erratically. Since a DUI doesn’t always involve alcohol, the officer might also suspect you’re under the influence if they notice prescription drugs or illegal drugs in the car. This is reason enough for the police officer to ask you to submit to a test to see how drunk or under the influence you are.

    You are well within your rights to politely refuse a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test, but there are consequences for this. You might be immediately arrested and charged, and there might be a mandatory blood alcohol test when you arrive for booking. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, you must call a DUI attorney in Los Angeles to represent you. An attorney will check for probable cause, demand evidence of said probable cause, and even negotiate lesser terms and punishments if you are convicted of a crime. You want an attorney on your side because an attorney knows the law. You don’t always know what might help your case, but your attorney is well-versed in finding ways to have your charges dropped or permanently reduced. Take the help.

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