Macomb Lawyers Explain Probable Cause in Drunk Driving Cases
Our Macomb County drunk driving lawyers have helped hundreds of men and women beat or reduce their OWI and DUI charges. In this article our lawyers explain when a police officer may pull you over for suspected drunk driving.
In Michigan, in any type of traffic stop – including drunk driving – an officer must have “probable cause” to pull you over. This means that the police officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the car or one of its occupants is in violation of the law.
Keep in mind that that the police are also allowed to pull you over for one offense (such as burned out tail light) and then charge you with a completely different offense (such as OWI). All they need is “probable cause” for the original offence for which they pulled you over.
Additionally, if the police receive a 911 phone tip from someoine else about your suspected drunk driving – and then the officer makes the same observation – the police typically are deemed to have sufficient probable cause to conduct a valid traffic stop for suspected drunk driving.
A police officer can base his “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion” in a Drunk Driving arrest on three primary factors.
1. OWI Probable Cause – Observation
Probable cause to pull over a driver on suspicion of drunk driving case typically begins with the officer’s observations.
– Is the driver driving erratically or unsafely?
– Does the driver smell like intoxicants?
– Does the suspected drunk driver have red, watery or glassy eyes?
– Does the suspected drunk driver have slurred speech?
– Is the suspected drunk driver having trouble with balance, or body movements?
– Has the suspected drunk driver urinated on themselves?
A skilled drunk driving lawyer can often challenge “probable cause” that is based on observation in a DUI or OWI stop or arrest.
2. OWI Probable Cause – Field Sobriety
After making the above observations, the police officer will generally move on to a field sobriety test. This is a series of specific tasks designed to test the driver’s ability to pay attention, follow directions and demonstrate control of their motor skills.
It is important to understand that Michigan law only recognizes a very specific field sobriety test as being considered scientifically valid. So the arresting officer must administer the field sobriety test properly according to the law for it to “stand up in court”.
An experienced Macomb County drunk driving lawyer can review video of the field sobriety test and the police report to determine whether your field sobriety test was performed correctly, accordin g to Michigan law. If the sobriety tests were the basis of the officer’s “probable cause” and they were not performed properly, a skilled lawyer may be able to get your drunk driving case dismissed.
3. OWI Probable Cause – Breathalyzer
The final tool used by police officers to establish probable cause in a drunk driving case, is the “PBT” or preliminary breath test.
If the police suspect that a driver is intoxicated they can require the person to submit to a breathalyzer test. Refusing to take the breathalyzer test will result in an automatic and immediate suspension of their driver’s license.
However, it is im portant to understand that Michigan law requirse a police officer to have a foundation for having a driver take the breathalyzer test.
A skilled drunk driving lawyer may be able to challenge the foundation for the preliminary breath test, and have the results suppressed (“thrown out”) getting your case dismissed.
And, even if the police can demonstrate a proper foundation for the PBT, if theofficer is improperly trained or improperly performs the breathalyzer test, an experienced drun k driving lawyer may still be able to get the results of the test “thrown out”.
Our Macomb Drunk Driving Lawyers Can Help
If you were arrested for drunk driving anywhere in Macomb County our skilled drunk driving lawyers are here to help. Call us today so we can look at all of the factors in your case –including the traffic stop – to ensure you have the best defense and get the best possible results in your drunk driving case.
Our Affordable Macomb County Drunk Driving Lawyers Can Help
If you are facing a Drunk Driving charge in Macomb County, you cannot afford to go without an experienced lawyer. Justin and Dale Vande Vrede cares about their clients and provide immediate and aggressive defense to anyone facing a Drunk Driving charge in Macomb County.
If you are being charged with any Michigan OWI, OWVI or “DUI” – including Super Drunk Driving – call experienced Macomb County lawyer Justin Vande Vrede today to understand your options and get the best possible results.