The Best Defense Strategies Are Based In Experience

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause in a DWI case

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | DWI

If the police arrest you and charge you with driving while intoxicated (DWI), it is essential to learn more about your defense options. Saying you were not drunk is unlikely to cut it in most cases, especially if the police have a test result that says you were.

One avenue you can investigate relates to the logic behind the police’s actions. Firstly, their reason for stopping you, and secondly, their reason for arresting you.

Officers need reasonable suspicion to stop someone

Outside an approved DWI checkpoint, the police need to show they had reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime, had committed a crime or were about to commit a crime. It does not necessarily have to be drunk driving related, either. It could be something as simple as a blown bulb on your taillight. 

The police need probable cause to arrest you

Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. Officers need to be almost certain that you did indeed commit the crime. So, in the case of DWI, they need to be able to explain what made them think you were too drunk to drive.

That is why they usually ask you to take a breathalyzer –  because that gives them scientific evidence to support their view that you were drunk (although breathalyzers can be wrong). It is also why officers ask people to perform field sobriety tests, such as standing on one leg. Failing those (which is possible even when sober) gives the police something to support their claim that you should not have been driving.

Sometimes, the police do not have sufficient grounds to stop or arrest someone but proceed anyway. Learning more about how to spot weaknesses in their arguments could help you beat the charge.