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Lack of probable cause may be valid defense to drunk driving

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2022 | Drunk Driving

What starts out as a routine traffic stop can quickly turn into a drunk driving arrest. Mississippi drivers who have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence may face several consequences if convicted including significant fines, license suspension, mandatory drug education programs, and even jail time. While these penalties are severe, it is important to remember that being charged does not at all guarantee a conviction. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to present a defense that results in a reduction or total dismissal of the charges against you. There are many strategies used to defend against drunk driving charges but establishing a lack of probable cause is one of the most common ones.

What is a lack of probable cause?

Law enforcement officers must have probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence. Generally, this means the officer has a reasonable belief that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, based on their observations of your behavior behind the wheel. Swerving, abruptly speeding up or slowing down, or improper signaling are all examples of driving behaviors that may indicate drunk driving. Once the officer has stopped your vehicle for violating one or more traffic laws, the officer may observe your behavior and notice signs of intoxication (e.g., failed field sobriety tests, slurred speech) and arrest you for driving while intoxicated.

However, there have been many cases where an officer has arrested the driver under suspicion of a DUI without probable cause. The officer may have simply acted on a hunch or bad feeling about the driver instead of looking at the totality of the circumstances.

Arresting you without probable cause is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. In such cases, any evidence obtained during the illegal stop or arrest, including test results, may not be used in the prosecutor’s case against you. Without the test results and other evidence of your intoxication, the prosecutor will have a much more difficult time establishing that you drove while intoxicated.

For more possible defensive strategies to use in your drunk driving case, consider consulting with an attorney in your area.