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What Is Probable Cause for Getting Pulled Over?

Probable cause and reasonable suspicion are what police officers need to have in order to stop you and arrest you if they suspect you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Law enforcement officials cannot arbitrarily stop your vehicle since the U.S. Constitution guarantees everyone freedom of movement. So to pull you over, a police must have either one of these two reasons.

What is Probable Cause?

Probable cause simply means that enough reliable information exists to support a reasonable belief that an individual has committed a crime—in this case, driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whether there is evidence of alcohol or drug use—such as reddened eyes or slurred speech—or failure to perform field sobriety tests, officers look for such facts in order to obtain probable cause for an arrest.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

Before pulling a driver over, a police officer needs to reasonably suspect criminal activity. This violation of the law can be just about anything—speeding, running through a stop sign or red light, erratic driving, or an array of other factors.

Arguing Lack of Probable Cause or Reasonable Suspicion

Arguing that a law enforcement official lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion is typically quite challenging. However, sometimes police officers make mistakes—and when they do—it could lead to a dismissal of charges of a “not guilty” verdict.

For example, if the defendant’s lawyer can prove that the arresting officer did not have a valid basis for pulling the driver over, everything that following that detention is considered inadmissible in court without reasonable suspicion. In other words, despite the fact the officer has evidence after the stop which proves that a driver has a BAC level over the legal limit, that evidence will not be shown in court if the stop was baseless.

If you have been recently arrested for a DUI in Ventura County, contact our Ventura DUI attorney at The Law Offices of Robert F. Sommers and request a free initial consultation today.