Typically, DUI charges arise out of traffic stops. The police must have reasonable grounds for pulling a motorist over, however, and if they do not, the Commonwealth may be precluded from introducing the evidence obtained via the stop at trial, regardless of how persuasive it is. Recently, a Pennsylvania court discussed probable cause in a ruling in which it ultimately dismissed an order suppressing the results of a chemical test in a DUI case. If you are accused of driving while intoxicated, it is smart to talk to a Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to assess your potential defenses.
The Facts of the Case
It is reported that a police officer observed the defendant driving on a highway for two and a half miles in the middle of the night. During that time, he saw the defendant meander over the fog line several times. He subsequently pulled the defendant over and, when speaking with him, noticed an odor of alcohol on his breath. The defendant was asked to submit to a field sobriety test; he agreed and performed some of the tasks incorrectly. He then agreed to submit to a breath test. Following the test, the officer arrested the defendant. The defendant moved to suppress the results of the breath test at trial, arguing that the officer had reasonable cause to stop the defendant. The trial court granted the motion, and the Commonwealth appealed.
Probable Cause to Arrest a DUI Suspect
On appeal, the court agreed with the Commonwealth and reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that in order to arrest the defendant for DUI, the officer needed to have probable cause to believe that the defendant was impaired to the extent that he could not drive safely. Probable cause is present when the circumstances and facts that are within the officer’s knowledge at the time of the arrest and that they believe constitute reasonably trustworthy information are adequate to merit a reasonable person to develop the belief that the suspect has committed or is about to commit a crime. Continue reading