How to Uncover Flaws in Probable Cause for DUI Stops

Categories: Criminal Defense

A black car stopped at a dui check.

Probable cause for DUI stops in Colorado is a crucial legal standard designed to protect individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. However, many people arrested following a DUI stop have been subject to probable cause flaws. Identifying flaws in DUI stops is critical to preserving individual rights, maintaining public trust, and promoting the fair and efficient operation of the criminal justice system. It ultimately serves the broader objective of balancing public safety with protecting civil liberties and the principles of justice. If you need legal help surrounding errors related to probable cause in DUI stops, it is essential to consult with an experienced defense attorney in Grand Junction. An attorney can help you identify flaws in your DUI stop and challenge your arrest or charges. 

How Does Probable Cause Apply to Colorado DUIs?

In Colorado, law enforcement officers must establish probable cause to initiate a DUI stop. This means they must have a reasonable belief that a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Common indicators of probable cause for a DUI stop in Colorado include erratic driving, speeding, weaving between lanes, or other observable signs of impairment.

Once the stop is made, officers typically assess the driver’s behavior, appearance, and performance on field sobriety tests to further substantiate probable cause. However, it’s essential to recognize that the determination of probable cause can be subjective, leaving room for interpretation and potential legal challenges.

Identifying probable cause flaws is critical to developing a defense to a DUI charge. If the court finds that officers lacked a reasonable basis for the stop or arrest, evidence obtained after that may be deemed inadmissible, potentially leading to the dismissal of charges. Therefore, understanding how probable cause applies in Colorado DUI cases is crucial for individuals facing DUI charges.

How to Challenge Probable Cause in DUI Stops 

The first step to challenging a DUI stop is understanding probable cause. Understanding probable cause for a DUI charge is crucial because it directly impacts the validity of the arrest and the admissibility of evidence in court. Next, it is important that individuals work with an attorney to evaluate the stop’s legitimacy. An attorney can assess whether the officer had a valid reason to stop you. If the stop was made without proper probable cause, it may be challenged in court.

Challenging DUI Probable Cause

Flaws in probable cause determinations are not uncommon in DUI cases, and they can have significant legal implications. Several factors can contribute to these flaws. First, probable cause in DUI cases often relies on subjective observations by law enforcement officers. Signs of impairment, such as slurred speech or erratic driving, may be misinterpreted, leading to unwarranted stops and arrests. Further, 

officers often administer Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) to assess a driver’s sobriety. However, these tests can be flawed due to adverse weather conditions, physical limitations, or a lack of standardized procedures, which may result in inaccurate judgments. Similarly, breathalyzer and other testing equipment must be properly calibrated to provide accurate results. Failure to maintain and calibrate these devices can lead to erroneous BAC readings and questionable probable cause.

In some cases, officers may use minor traffic violations as a pretext to initiate a DUI stop. This practice raises questions about the true motive behind the stop and whether probable cause was genuinely established. Moreover, not all law enforcement officers are adequately trained to identify signs of impairment or conduct DUI investigations. This lack of training can lead to misjudgments and flawed probable cause determinations. In the same vein, studies have shown that racial bias can affect probable cause determinations, leading to disproportionate stops and arrests of certain minority groups, raising concerns about fairness and equality in DUI enforcement.

Addressing these flaws is essential to uphold the constitutional rights of individuals and ensure a fair legal process. DUI defense attorneys often scrutinize probable cause issues to challenge the validity of arrests and evidence, underscoring the importance of recognizing and rectifying these flaws in DUI cases to uphold the principles of justice.

Legal Challenges Related to Probable Cause in DUI Stops 

While police officers must have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to make a DUI stop, there are certain situations and methods through which they can overcome the need for probable cause for a DUI stop. For example, law enforcement agencies may set up DUI checkpoints to stop vehicles randomly without individualized probable cause. However, these checkpoints must adhere to specific guidelines and legal requirements to ensure their constitutionality. Further, if an officer arrives at the scene of an accident, they may have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that a driver is impaired based on their observations, the driver’s statements, or the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Although these methods can provide a basis for a DUI stop without prior probable cause, it’s essential for law enforcement to respect constitutional rights and follow established legal procedures. Any challenge to the stop’s legality, including the establishment of probable cause or reasonable suspicion, can be subject to legal review and may impact the admissibility of evidence in court. Individuals who believe their rights were violated during a DUI stop should consult with an experienced attorney to explore potential defenses and remedies.

Were You Arrested for a DUI Without Probable Cause?

If you were recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence, one possible defense is that the officers stopped you without probable cause. Grand Junction DUI defense attorney, Mark S. Rubinstein has decades of hands-on experience defending clients in all types of DUI cases, including those in which officers lacked probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. With our help, you can rest assured knowing that your case–and your future–are in good hands. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, contact the law offices of Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C.. You can also connect with Attorney Rubinstein through our secure online contact form.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.