Is It Possible for Your Attorney to Build a Defense against the Officer’s Probable Cause?

Interviewer:  How have you been able to defend problems with reasonable suspicion and issues with probable cause? Do you have any examples of where it went wrong, and it wasn’t properly established, and that helped you win a case?

Court: You see this less commonly now, because it kind of was a problem, and so officers stopped doing it, but they would stop somebody for weaving in their lane. The problem with weaving in your lane is that it’s not actually a violation of the law. Crossing your lane without using a signal is a violation, so they can pull you over that. But weaving in your lane probably just makes them suspicious that you’re drunk.

For a DUI Case to Hold Up, the Police Have To Be Careful about What Is the Basis of Their Reasonable Suspicion

So, if they just pull you over for something like that without basing their suspicion on anything more, they don’t have enough reasonable suspicion. All they can say to the judge is, “Well, I saw this car weaving in its lane.” Well, that’s not really a great amount of evidence that the driver was drinking.

Your Defense Attorney Can Refute That the Officer Did Not Develop Reasonable Suspicion

So, something like that can happen where the officer pulls you over without observing enough. So, maybe he didn’t follow you for very long, and he saw you do something that looked like you might be impaired, but he didn’t bother to follow you and see if you did anything else. And he doesn’t have any sort of actual traffic violation to stop you for. For those sorts of things, he’s not going to have enough reasonable suspicion, so you can get that case dismissed.

There are a number of technical things that defense attorneys know to bring up when an officer is developing probable cause. I’ve seen is an officer will claim that somebody has bloodshot eyes. And what has been shown medically is that somebody that’s impaired will have bloodshot and watery eyes. But to just have bloodshot eyes is not necessarily a sign of impairment.

If you’re an officer, and you’re trying to develop reasonable suspicion, you’re going to need three or four things. So you can say you detected an odor of alcohol and you can say you observed bloodshot and watery eyes, but you need more than that because that’s what everybody says on every DUI stop. You need to observe some sort of improper lane change or that the driver is fumbling for their license, or their speech was slurred, or they said that they had several drinks or something like that. Many times it just comes down to an officer needing to have a couple different things to suggest that somebody’s impaired.

By Court Koehler

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