In order to pull you over for a drunk driving investigation, law enforcement must have a good reason to do so.
In fact, the Fourth Amendment requires that law enforcement have a certain level of justification before they can lawfully stop, investigate and arrest a DUI suspect. In other words, the law requires police officers to demonstrate reasonable suspicion for the stop and probable cause for your arrest. But what exactly does this mean?
Understanding the probable cause for a DUI arrest
Most DUI cases start with a police stop, and that stop has to be based on credible suspicion that you could be drunk behind the wheel. In the context of drunk driving, the police must observe some violations of traffic laws like swerving in and out of your lane, running the red light, driving with your lights off at night or hugging the centreline.
Armed with reasonable suspicion that you might be drunk, the police will stop you. And after the stop, something in your behavior must justify further investigation. For instance, slurred speech, the presence of open alcohol containers in your car or the smell of alcohol on your breath can justify further investigation for drunk driving. This is how probable cause is established.
Protecting your rights
Make no mistake, a conviction for drunk driving can have far-reaching implications on your life. Fortunately, the law protects you from arbitrary arrest and prosecution. If you believe the police had no probable cause for your DUI arrest, you may have valid grounds for contesting the charges.