If the officer lacked probable cause for your arrest, you cannot be convicted of DWI

Even if an officer has "reasonable articulable suspicion" to stop you, the officer must then observe sufficient facts to support the existence of probable cause before they can arrest you for DWI/DUI. Upon a proper motion by defense counsel, the prosecutor must present sufficient evidence to the court establishing that the officer had probable cause make the arrest in your case. Absent such a showing, the breath test and any evidence obtained after the invalid arrest must be suppressed (excluded from evidence) and your case dismissed.

What Evidence Supports Probable Cause for a DWI Arrest?

An officer's probable cause is usually based on driving behavior prior to the stop (although, there is sometimes no driving behavior observed in some DWI/DUI cases), field sobriety tests, a preliminary breath test reading, and the officer's general observations of demeanor, motor skills, balance, and speech. If these observations combined do not amount to probable cause, the evidence obtained after the arrest will be suppressed and your case dismissed. This, of course, assumes that the proper motion and legal argument are made by defense counsel. Absent such argument, the judge will not raise the issue for the defense.

One of the key pieces of evidence officers, prosecutors, and courts rely on in making a determination of probable cause to arrest is the result of a preliminary breath test (PBT) administered on the side of the road. PBT results are only admissible for probable cause - not as substantive evidence. However, where the result is above a .08, it is very easy for the judge to find that the officer had probable cause to arrest for DUI.

A Fairfax DWI Lawyer Can Challenge Probable Cause in Your Case

An experienced Fairfax Virginia DWI & DUI defense lawyer can preset challenges to probable cause on your behalf. However, if an attorney misses these issues, the judge will never have an opportunity to address the challenge. Therefore, it is critical that you have an attorney with a focus on DUI cases that has the appropriate level of experience.

If you have a pending DUI or DWI case, contact our office today at 703-556-0004 or through the Contact Us page to schedule a free consultation.   

Kyle Manikas
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