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 properly 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 to arrest. Absent such a showing, the breath test and any evidence obtained after the invalid arrest must be suppressed (excluded from evidence).
An officer's probable cause is usually based on driving behavior prior to the stop (although, there is sometimes no driving behavior observed in 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. 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. PBTs 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 with the appropriate experience can effectively 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.
Request your free copy of Understanding and Navigating the DUI/DWI Process and contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation on your Fairfax DWI/DUI case from Fairfax DWI attorney.
Manikas Law LLC
10513 Judicial Drive, Suite 203
Fairfax, VA 22030