DUI Arrests May Only Take Place Under Certain Circumstances

After a couple of drinks, you may have felt as though you were okay to drive home. You had done it many times before without any problems or issues.

One evening on your way home, you saw flashing lights in your rear view mirror. You may have moved over hoping that the officer would pass you by on the way to stop another vehicle or respond to a call, but that didn't happen. Instead, the officer initiated a traffic stop on you. By the time it was all over, you found yourself under arrest on suspicion of DUI.

Did the officer have a legal reason to arrest you?

DUI arrests commonly begin with a traffic stop. In order to make that stop, the officer must observe behavior that causes a reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime, or will commit a crime. In order for the traffic stop to be legal, the officer must observe behaviors such as speeding, making illegal U-turns or illegally changing lanes. Even a broken taillight could provide a valid reason for a stop.

Thereafter, if the officer suspects you of impairment, that same reasonable belief does not substantiate an arrest. Instead, the officer will need to establish probable cause first. The officer may do this through the administration of field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test. Even if you refuse to participate in these tests the officer may believe he or she has enough probable cause for an arrest based on other observations.

What if you don't think the officer had a legal reason to arrest you?

If you don't think the officer had probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence, you may challenge it. For instance, you may question the officer's training in administering field sobriety and preliminary breath tests. You may question whether the breath machine was working properly. If you decided not to participate in these tests, you could argue that sufficient probable cause for the arrest did not exist.

As you can see, you do not have to simply resign yourself to thinking you will face a conviction for DUI. You have the right to challenge the charges, and in these cases, that often starts with the traffic stop. Before proceeding, it may be beneficial to gain an understanding of your rights and legal options.