Probable Cause for Arrest

Most of the cases we handle for Driving While Impaired deals with the issue of whether or not the police officer had probable cause for arrest.

When evaluating cases dealing with probable cause for arrest it’s important to understand that an arrest is only constitutionally valid when the police officer has probable cause in order to make it. Probable cause for arrest is a “standard of proof” where the state must offer enough evidence to convince a judge the police officer in your case made a constitutionally valid arrest, based on the totality of the circumstances.

Totality of the circumstances means that the court must weigh both the evidence the State presents of your impairment against any and all clues where you showed a lack of impairment. This means that the court will hear arguments from the State of all indicators of impairment, primarily any clues observed during the administration of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test. I have had great success demonstrating for the court where the Officer failed to follow the guidelines laid out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in their instruction and documentation of the S.F.S.T.’s. In many cases, I can suppress or diminish the results testified to by the Officer through this method. Unfortunately, many defense attorneys only focus on this one aspect, and miss opportunities to show the court where there was evidence you were not, in fact, impaired.

From safe and lawful driving, to a lack of red/glassy eyes, or where you followed instructions or demonstrated good balance and coordination, the court must weigh all of this against the ‘clues of impairment.’ Only after evaluating both the ‘good and bad’ parts of your performance can the court truly determine, under the totality of the circumstances, whether there was Probable Cause to arrest.


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