Do you think that probable cause wasn’t a good enough reason for you to get charged with DWI? A common concern is that an officer may not have had the right to pull over a driver, much less to make an arrest. The fact is that, in order for an officer to pull a moving vehicle over, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a Vehicle and Traffic Law violation has occurred. What does that entail? Here is an example.
Probable Cause | Evidence
Years ago, we handled a case involving an individual who veered outside his lane to avoid a pothole. We were able to establish this fact because we got involved early and took some photographs of the roadway. The Vehicle and Traffic Law and some case law state that a driver can legally move outside the traffic lane to avoid obstructions in the roadway and things of that nature. In that case, we got the charge dismissed because we were able to show that there was no reasonable suspicion that any Vehicle and Traffic Law violation occurred; the driver had a legitimate reason to move outside of his lane.
Probable Cause | Road Tests
Beyond that, an officer must have reasonable cause to believe that a driver is intoxicated. How does the officer prove this? He or she relies on direct observations. Is there the smell of alcohol? Are the driver’s eyes bloodshot and watery? Is the driver’s speech slurred? Is coordination impaired? If you are pulled over, an officer may ask you to perform certain maneuvers called field sobriety tests. The officer may ask you to recite the ABCs, count on your fingers (1-2-3-4, 4-3-2-1), walk a straight line, stand on one foot, touch your finger to your nose with your eyes closed, or count backwards. If the officer believes you were unable to perform those tests satisfactorily, he or she may consider that there are additional grounds to arrest you for driving while intoxicated.
Probable Cause | BAC
Many officers ask drivers to stand by the roadside and blow into a pre-screening device, sometimes called an Alco-Sensor. If the device registers positive for alcohol, that is another basis for the officer to make an arrest. If you elect to take the test and pass it, the officer cannot charge you for having an excessive blood-alcohol content in your system. If you blow a reading of 0.08 or higher when submitting to the test at the station, that result will be considered probable cause for charging you with DWI for having an excessive amount of alcohol in your blood.
If you would like to discuss probable cause with an experienced Hamburg DWI lawyer, please call our office today for a free case evaluation.