Before an officer can legally arrest you for a DUI, he must have probable cause you were operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
About Probable Cause
Essentially, probable cause means that an officer has a reasonable suspicion that you're legally impaired. Examples of behavior that constitute probable cause for a traffic stop include:
- Swerving, weaving, drifting, or otherwise having difficulty staying in the correct lane.
- Driving too slowly, too fast, or making improper changes in your speed.
- Driving without your headlights, stopping for no apparent reason, improper signaling, or other types of vigilance problems.
- Demonstrating poor judgement through actions such as tailgating, arguing with another driver, or improper stopping in response to a police signal.
If you've already been pulled over, probable cause that you've been drinking includes:
- The smell of alcohol on your breath
- Glassy or bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- A verbal admission of intoxication
- Failing field sobriety tests such as the walk-and-turn, one leg stand, or the horizontal gaze nystagmus test
- Failing a preliminary breath test
Probable Cause and DUI Checkpoints
DUI checkpoints are permissible under Virginia law, but only if they meet specific criteria. They must be publicized in advance and police officers aren't allowed to stop every vehicle that passes. They must use a mathematical formula to choose who gets stopped, or wait for driver behavior to give them probable cause.
Building Your DUI Defense
If you've been arrested for a DUI, challenging the legality of your arrest may be one option to consider. When making an arrest, officers are supposed to consider the totality of your circumstances. For instance, one example of erratic driving could mean you were distracted for a second or two. However, several examples of erratic behavior combined with slurred speech and a failed sobriety test provides a stronger justification for your arrest.
Having a skilled attorney prepare your DUI defense ensures he'll investigate every option available to support your case. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping drivers avoid the stiff penalties associated with a DUI conviction. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.