Personal Attention.
Aggressive Defense.

Photo of Thomas C. Mooney

How does law enforcement establish probable cause in a DUI arrest?

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2022 | Drunk Driving

Most drunk driving cases begin when you hit another person’s car or when the police pull you over for an investigation. For the latter to happen, the police must have valid reasons to make a lawful traffic stop. They cannot stop you on the assumption that you might be driving under influence. 

Under Maryland and federal laws, the police must have probable cause to stop you for a DUI investigation. Without this, you can dispute the resulting DUI charge and possibly get a favorable outcome. As far as drunk driving is concerned, the police will solely rely on your behavior on the road to initiate a DUI investigation against you. So what behaviors are these?

DUI and probable cause: what the police look for

Every DUI case is unique. However, certain scenarios frequently form part of probable cause determination in drunk driving cases. Here are some of the reasons the police may stop you for a potential DUI investigation:

Traffic offenses

Any traffic offense can give law enforcement a reason to stop you for investigation. Some of these traffic violations may include:

  • Hugging the centerline
  • Drifting in and out of your lane
  • Running through red lights
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road

A traffic violation does not automatically lead to a drunk driving charge. However, if the police notice signs of intoxication (like the smell of alcohol, slurred speech or the presence of alcohol cans in your vehicle), then they might investigate you for drunk driving. 

Traffic accidents

Drunk driving impairs the driver’s reaction times. If you are involved in a traffic accident, there is a good chance the police will come to the accident scene. While investigating the accident, the police will need to establish the cause of the accident. And this might include looking out for indications of drunk driving. 

Being stopped for a drunk driving investigation does mean that you are guilty. Knowing your legal options can help you protect your rights and interests while defending yourself against a possible DUI charge.