Probable Cause in a Missouri DWI/DUI Case
Law enforcement officers must be able to provide a specific reason for their initial stop of your vehicle along with any additional detention and investigation. Police cannot simply pull you over and investigate you for possible drunk driving without a valid reason. There are specific legal standards that must be met. If these standards are not met, a skilled attorney can identify any violation of your constitutional rights and use the facts surrounding your case to effectively represent you in court.
Reasonable Suspicion for a Traffic Stop
In order to legally pull you over, a police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you have violated the law. This can be any law, such as speeding, not using a turn signal, or not coming to a complete stop. However, an officer can pull you over for a minor traffic violation and then later arrest you for DWI/DUI if there is probable cause for such an arrest.
Probable Cause to Investigate a Possible DWI
Once you are stopped, the officer must have a valid reason to begin an investigation for DWI. They cannot perform field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests on everyone they pull over. Instead, they must have probable cause to believe that you have been drinking. Some observations that may support probable cause include:
- Odor of alcohol on your breath
- Slurring your speech
- Watery, glassy, or bloodshot eyes
- Alcohol containers in the car
If these initial signs of impairment are not present, then legally the stop should end and you should be on your way with a ticket for the initial infraction. Unfortunately, that is not the way it always happens. This is why you need an experienced defense attorney to help you through this process.Watch our FAQ Videos.
Probable Cause to Arrest for DWI
An officer must also have probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in order to arrest you for DWI/DUI. Often, such probable cause is supported by the following:
- Poor performance on field sobriety tests
- A positive reading for alcohol on the officer’s preliminary breath test device
- Signs of intoxication, such as stumbling, staggering or falling
- A statement from you that you have been drinking or at a bar/party
In too many cases, police officers do not have adequate reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop and/or do not have probable cause for a DWI/DUI investigation or arrest. If your constitutional rights were violated, any evidence gathered in light of the violation should not be used against you, as it is illegal.
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Our skilled St. Louis criminal defense attorneys will fight to have any unlawful evidence against you thrown out of court, which often results in having your charges dropped. We fight for your rights in DUI cases, so please contact Muhlenkamp & Bernsen today to discuss your case.