Many different legal concepts are used in the criminal justice system. When you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, two of them will come into play. These are reasonable suspicion and probable cause.
The differences can have a significant effect on a drunk driving case. Here are a few things you need to know about reasonable suspicion and probable cause regarding a DUI/OUI arrest.
What is reasonable suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion means something that a cop saw led him or her to believe you were intoxicated. Law enforcement officers can look for numerous signs as they watch traffic move through their area: swerving between lanes, driving too fast or too slowly, failing to use a turn signal, not using lights after dark and stopping suddenly.
They might also look for drivers who aren't obeying traffic signs and signals. In some cases, a drunk driving charge is brought on because of a crash. When there is an accident, the officers who respond to the scene might opt to test people for impairment.
What is probable cause?
Probable cause means that an officer has enough evidence to suggest that a person probably committed a crime. In a drunk driving case, this evidence might be the results of a blood alcohol concentration test or a field sobriety test.
In order to arrest you, the police officer must have probable cause. They don't need probable cause to detain you, but detaining you isn't the same as arresting you, so it is important to find out which one is going on in your situation.
What does this have to do with my case?
If you have evidence that an officer didn't have reasonable suspicion to pull you over or probable cause to arrest you, you can use that information as part of your defense. Whether you are pleading or fighting your case in court, you need a viable defense strategy to reach the best possible outcome in your DUI/OUI case.