Unlawful Police Stops for DUI
DUI Traffic Stop Procedure in Washington State
Most people who are charged with DUI were originally pulled over for some other reason, usually a traffic violation such as speeding. In some cases, the officer's "probable cause" or reason for stopping you may not be warranted or even applicable. In such a case, if it can be shown that a law enforcement officer illegally stopped you, any other charges made against you, including DUI, must be dismissed.
It can be difficult to prove an illegal police stop and it will require the skill of an experienced DUI lawyer to be able to convince a judge or jury that it was arbitrary or unsubstantiated. We work with a network of private investigators and expert witnesses in each DUI case to thoroughly investigate the circumstances, evidence, and witnesses, including the arresting officer. It can sometimes be shown that the officer in question has done the same thing before or that there is conflicting evidence from other witnesses at the scene. While it can be a difficult legal point to prove, it can also result in the complete dismissal of your DUI charge and case.
For more information about unlawful police stops and DUI arrests, you should speak to a DUI attorney at the DUI Heroes. We proudly serve Seattle, Lynnwood, Snohomish County, and throughout Washington State.
What Is Probable Cause?
"Probable cause" is a phrase you've probably heard thrown a lot in movies and television, but its importance in actual criminal cases cannot be overstated. Essentially, probable cause is the legal concept that allows police officers to stop and search citizens when there is observable evidence that a crime has occurred, is about to occur, or is being perpetrated. Even in drunk driving cases, probable cause can mean the difference between a conviction and dismissing the case against the accused.
When it comes to DUI cases, probable cause means that officers on the road need to witness (or otherwise detect) verifiable signs that a driver may be intoxicated. This can happen while observing the driver operate their vehicle or during a stop that was initiated for another reason (such as speeding or a broken taillight).
Examples of probable cause in drunk driving cases include:
- Swerving, drifting, or other erratic driving maneuvers
- Slurring speech
- Witnessing an intoxicated individual get into their vehicle
- The scent of alcohol
- The presence of an open container
- The performance in a roadside sobriety test
When There Is No Probable Cause in a DUI Case
It's important to remember that just because an officer believes he or she has probable cause does not mean a crime has been committed. However, when these officers proceed to detain or search an individual without probable cause, then that individual's constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure have been violated. In most cases, this can mean that the case against the accused will be dismissed.
Recognizing and asserting probable cause issues in DUI cases, however, can be difficult and it takes legal counsel with substantial experience in this practice area to know when their client's rights have been violated. At DUI Heroes, we have dedicated our entire practice to DUI defense and continually stay engaged with the latest laws and dilemmas inherent to this practice area. If you believe that your DUI charge was the result of a probable cause violation, we encourage you to contact our offices now.
Call DUI Heroes for a Free Case Evaluation!
Law enforcement and prosecution must prove that they have sufficient cause to stop you and were not choosing you for some arbitrary reason or in some random fashion. In addition, once you are stopped, the officer only has a short amount of time to question you to establish if there is any evidence of DUI. We always recommend to clients that when and if they are stopped not to argue with the officer, but politely request to contact an attorney as soon as possible before answering any questions. The time to argue is with a lawyer at your side who can protect your rights and who understands the law. Call our offices if you have been arrested for DUI and feel law enforcement stopped you unlawfully.
Contact an experienced Seattle DUI lawyer for help fighting a DUI arrest if you feel you were stopped unlawfully by law enforcement.