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What is a probable cause to arrest?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2020 | DUI

Pennsylvania drivers like you should understand your rights if an officer pulls you over. They cannot decide to arrest or test you for the presence of alcohol for no reason. But they might rely on something called a probable cause to arrest. 

What is this? How does it work in relation to DUI arrests? Does it guarantee your arrest or are there ways around it? 

Defining probable cause

First of all, what is a probable cause to arrest? Cornell Law School defines a probable cause as a requirement in the Fourth Amendment. Officers must meet this requirement before carrying out an arrest, conducting a search or gaining a warrant. 

According to most courts, probable cause exists where there is reasonable basis to believe someone committed a crime. This also encompasses cases where evidence of the crime may rest in the place officers wish to search. In some cases, probable cause can justify warrantless searches, seizures and arrests. 

What happens after an arrest made in this manner? 

But this is not a common tactic. After a warrantless arrest happens, officers must take you before competent authority. A judicial determination will decide if probable cause was present before the arrest. 

In the case of DUI related incidents, what do officers consider probable cause? Failed field sobriety test results may fall into this category. So do physical signs of the presence of alcohol. This can include red eyes, slurred speech or the smell of alcohol on a person. 

In many cases, numerous small pieces of evidence get grouped together to form a probable cause to arrest. This is why it is not entirely reliable. 

Pennysylvania Drunk Driving Defense: Law, Tactics, and Procedure | by Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. | Revere Legal Publishers