March is a great time to get out of the house, visit with friends, and enjoy some college basketball. Perhaps you decide to celebrate your team advancing in the tournament with a few drinks at the bar. This innocent decision can land you in some trouble if you are pulled over on your way home.
If you have been stopped for drunk driving in Illinois, you are probably wondering what happens next. The good news is that at this point, you are not yet under arrest for DUI, and police may not have grounds to charge you at all. However, if they do, you still have an opportunity to fight the arrest. The following will outline the strategies for fighting drunk driving charges on the grounds that your arrest was unlawful. Every case is different, so it is important to consult with an Illinois DUI defense lawyer about your specific situation. Some important background information may also be helpful.
Probable Cause Necessary for a DUI Arrest
Police need something more than a reasonable suspicion to charge you with drunk driving, as compared to initiating the stop. Officers must have probable cause to support an arrest, which means they cannot act on a hunch. There must be some factual basis and evidence from the surrounding circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that criminal activity is afoot. In a DUI stop, information drawn from the scene must be enough to convince police that you have been drinking and/or you are currently intoxicated.
Facts Which Establish Probable Cause
There are many factors that could form the basis for probable cause, which could support an arrest for DUI. Examples include:
You will be required to interact with police during the encounter, and there is a lot you may say or do that could give officers probable cause. If your eyes are bloodshot or you are slurring your words, that could be sufficient probable cause for an arrest. You can still fight the charges by presenting evidence that you have allergies or you are on medication.
Performance on Field Sobriety Tests
Police may decide to dig deeper in a DUI stop by requesting you to do a walk-and-turn, one-legged stand, or vision test. Failure on these physical exams could provide probable cause, but the results are still no more than officer observations. There may be other reasons you failed the field sobriety tests, so you have grounds for a defense.
Officers may also ask you to breathe into a portable breathalyzer device to assess your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), but do not be fooled by the results. These tests are notoriously inaccurate, they are not given in a controlled environment, and they cannot be used as evidence in your case.
If there are flaws in any of these grounds for probable cause, your arrest may not be considered lawful. That means any evidence obtained from you, including an official chemical test at the police station, cannot be used in court by the prosecutor.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney About Fighting a DUI Arrest
If you were charged with drunk driving and believe the police lacked probable cause to arrest you, please call 847-577-8700 or go online to reach Glasgow & Olsson in Schaumburg, IL. We can schedule a consultation to review your circumstances and discuss potential defense strategies.
(image courtesy of Matt Popovich)