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Was My DUI Stop Conducted Legally?

It is a sad truth that not all police officers follow protocol or respect the rights of the civilians they serve. Knowing and understanding your rights can ensure that you are protected in the event of an illegal stop or search. Our Virginia Beach DUI lawyer explains what you need to know about probable cause and when an officer is overstepping his or her bounds.

Probable Cause & Reasonable Suspicion

In criminal law, a law enforcement officer needs an adequate reason to stop a vehicle, conduct a search, or arrest an individual. An officer cannot pull you over or arrest you simply because you might have been driving under the influence. Reasonable suspicion is needed beforehand.

For example, it is not within an officer's legal bounds to pull over random cars in the hopes of catching someone who had been drinking. If, however, a car is swerving on the road or demonstrating unsafe driving behavior, the officer is within their legal rights to pull over that driver.

Other forms of reasonable suspicion include:

  • Weaving between lanes or swerving
  • Illegal turns
  • Driving without headlights on
  • Speeding or driving too slowly
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Frequent or unnecessary braking
  • Almost hitting other objects, cars, or people

In many cases, an individual is first pulled over for another crime, like speeding or a traffic infraction, but then is arrested for a DUI after an officer collects probable cause that the driver was operating under the influence.

What Constitutes Probable Cause for a DUI?

After an individual has been pulled over with reasonable suspicion, an officer can use the details of the situation to create probable cause for a DUI. The probable cause an officer uses when determining whether or not an individual is driving under the influence can also be used as evidence later on in court if the arrest is made.

An officer could have probable cause for a DUI if:

  • You smell like alcohol
  • There is opened bottles or containers of alcohol in your vehicle
  • You are slurring your words
  • You admit to drinking
  • You fail a sobriety test or breathalyzer

If you have been arrested for a DUI and you believe that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over or probable cause to make the arrest, contact Thoman Law, PLLC today. Our Virginia Beach DUI attorney can help you protect your rights and fight your charges.

Get started today with a free case evaluation!