When a DUI lawyer examines a case, they typically try to break down the traffic stop into its pieces. This can be useful in identifying flaws in the case brought by the state. Let's take a look at how a DUI attorney tries to make sense of a charge brought against a driver.
1. How the Police Narrowed Down a Probable Cause
The best way to think about probable cause, especially when discussing a traffic or DUI stop, is to think of it as a ladder that the police officer has to climb. In most cases, this starts with a lesser version of probable cause known as reasonable suspicion. The law requires a cop who pulls someone over to have a reasonable suspicion that a crime might have been committed. This is a lesser standard than probable cause, and consequently, the police have to quickly establish probable cause or cut the driver loose.
2. Example of Reasonable Suspicion
An initial suspicion can be just about anything a police officer can justify as being more than just randomly harassing drivers. If you've ever been pulled over because of a blown taillight, then you've seen reasonable suspicion in action. Notably, reasonable suspicion can arise from a summary offense.
3. Getting to Probable Cause
Police officers utter a familiar phrase during nearly all traffic stops: "Do you know why I pulled you over?" This is the first attempt to elicit a confession. Just about every question they ask afterward is a drive toward a probable cause. You'll be asked if you were drinking and how much you had. The cop might conclude that your eyes look bloodshot.
The next step is the field sobriety test. An officer has you step out of the car and do tasks like saying the alphabet backward or walking heel-to-toe in a straight line. Slurred speech, stumbling and other signs of motor function impairment are cited as evidence that justifies administering a breath test.
4. Refuting the Case
A DUI lawyer has a few tricks worth trying. First, they'll examine the affidavit the police officer filed. This is a document where they explain why they stopped you, how they found probable cause and what evidence supports a DUI charge. Second, a DUI attorney can demand the production of things like dash and body cam videos. They can then compare the events depicted to the affidavit to find inconsistency. Questions can also be raised about the equipment used to test BAC and even the way the field sobriety test was conducted.
If you want to work with a DUI attorney, contact services such as Daniels Long & Pinsel.